THE UNIVERSITY OF
THE WILMER COLLECTION
OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS
RICHARD H. WILMER, JR.
Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive
in 2010 witii funding from
University of Nortii Carolina at Chapel Hill
B IRomance ot tbe Civil TKlar
F. A. MITCHEL
CAPTAIN AND AIDE-DE-CAMP ON THE STAFF OF
MAJOR-GENEUAL O. M. MITCHEL
AUTHOR OP " CHATTANOOGA " " CHICKAMAUGA " ETC.
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1897, by Harper & Brothers.
All riglits reserved.
I. Bushwhacked 1
II. Incognito 13
III. A Definite Object 21
IV. Won Over 33
V. Arrest 44
VI. An Amatecr Soubrette 59
VII. IMlDNIGHT 72
VIII. On THE Plateau 83
IX. Fiends 93
X. A Dance for a Life ....;... 102
XI. Stealing the Guns Ill
XII. A Daylight Attack 121
XIII. Beleaguered 131
XIV. A Bonfire Defence 139
XV. Woman's Pluck 148
XVI. A Bugle-call 161
XVII. Flight ... 175
XVIII. Retaken 184
XIX. Buck's Indiscretion 194
XX. A Masquerade 203
XXI. A Stern-chase 214
XXII. Hunting Big Game. ........ 225
XXIII. The Union Saved 238
" Hands up !"
Why he shouted the words I don't know;
for in another moment he gave me one barrel,
and before I could raise a finger I heard a
click, admonishing me that I was about to get
the other. A thin film of smoke floating
above the fence to the right and two malig-
nant eyes peering at me from between the
rails betrayed his position. Like a flash I
whipped out my revolver, but before I could
raise it there was another report, and my
right arm dropped, benumbed by a charge of
buckshot. Seizing my weapon with my left
hand, I brought it to a level with the eyes
behind the fence and fired. There was a sound
a SWEET REVENGE
of a body falling, and I knew that I had struck
Spurring my horse to the side of the road, I
craned my neck over the fence, and there in
the ditch lay the bushwhacker. His hat had
fallen off, and left bare a head of red, shocky
hair. In his belt was his revolver, beside him
a shot-gun. His body, clad in "^ butternut," lay
on an incline, his feet in the water, which
flowed lazily past. The sun, shining through
budding branches, lighted up his face, and I
knew that I had seen him before; indeed, a
vivid scene in which he had borne a part came
up out of the past to fling over me a cloud of
gloom, like the wing of an Apollyon.
I drew an involuntary sigh. It was not
that I had taken a life — lives were cheap
enough in those days, and he had sought to
take mine ; it was not my narrow escape from
death ; but an overpowering consciousness that
the spirit of war lurked everywhere ; that the
beautiful face of Nature about me — trees,
fences, bushes, everything — best served to
" Is he dead ?"
Startled at the sound of a voice, I glanced
aside. There, leaning against the fence, her
arras resting on the top rail, gazing at the
disao'reeable sis-ht on which I had been in-
tent, stood a young girl.
"Where did you come from?" I asked, lift-
ing my hat with my left hand.
" There." She turned her head and glanced
at a house on the other side of the road.
" You must have stepped lightly ; I didn't
hear you coming."
Without reply she continued gazing at the
body of the bushwhacker. I too looked again at
the upturned face, with its glassy, staring eyes.
" Why did you kill him f
" I will tell you."
But I did not tell her then, for as I spoke I
felt something warm trickling over the baqk
of ray hand, and, looking down, saw blood drip-
ping upon her dress.
" Corae into the house, quick j that's arterial
Seizing the reins, she led ray horse, I follow-
ing, to a side gate. This she opened, and we
went up to the veranda. Catching sight of a
colored bov, she called to him :
"Mount, 5'?^iWi;/y, and ride for the doctor!
Tell him a man has been shot, an artery cut,
and a life is in danirer."
4 SWEET REVENGE
I had a dim image of the boy tearing down
the road, and, tottering into the house, I sat
down on a sofa in the library. I must have
fainted, for suddenly, without being conscious
of their coming, I found myself in the midst of
an excited throng. An old lady stood beside
me with a basin, from which she was sprinkling
my face. A white-haired old gentleman with
pink cheeks, a towel in one hand, a decanter in
the other, was bending over me. A boy of
twelve with a toy gun was staring at me,
while the girl who had brought me there
looked on with far more interest than I had
yet seen in her impassive face. Beyond all
was a dark background of house servants.
My coat had been removed, and a negro had a
tight grip on a bit of wood twisted in a hand-
kerchief tied around my arm just above the
wound. A long, thin man in a rusty suit of
black came hurrying in with a leather case in
his hand, and, whipping out his instruments,
began the work of picking up a partly severed
artery. He first took out a piece of my coat-
sleeve, which had retarded the hemorrhage and
doubtless saved my life, tiien a half-dozen shot,
did some stitching, then carefully bandaged
" There," he said, " if you move that arm
within forty-eight hours j^ou'll be in danger of
3'^our life ; keep quiet, and you'll come out all
" I must go on at once, doctor."
" You'll go part way as a corpse if you do."
The old lady declared that I should not stir
out of the house till the doctor gave the word ;
the old gentleman bade me welcome as long-
as I needed to stay ; the young lady who had
brought me there said nothing; while the boy
looked as if to lose a subject so fruitful of in-
terest would break his heart.
" I'll send a young associate of mine," said
the doctor. " If tlie wound opens 3'^ou must
have attention at once."
" Thank you, doctor. There seems to be a
great deal of commotion about a very small
matter. I don't care to put so many people
to so much trouble."
No one paid any attention to my protest, all
busying themselves to make me comfortable.
Pillows were laid beneath my head, a silk
quilt was thrown over me, a stand with a
silver bell on it was placed beside me that I
might ring for anything I wanted. All be-
ing satisfactorily arranged, the doctor ordered
b . SWKET REVENGE
everybody out of the room, and then departed
What a singular transition ! Half an hour
before I had left Iluntsville — beautiful Hunts-
ville, nestling among the hills that slope away
from the Cumberland plateau — and was work-
ing ray way northward, towards Fa3'etteville,
Tennessee. The plants in the yards beside the
road were putting forth their buds, the leaves
on the trees were opening, insects were awaken-
ing, birds singing — all revived by the rays of
the vernal sun.
I permitted my horse to drop into a walk,
A pleasant languor stole over me, replacing a
bitter mental turbulence which had been ever
present with me for months. Perhaps it was
the genial warmth, the balmy air ; perhaps an
absence of war scenes with which I had Ions:
been familiar; perhaps both. At any rate,
I watched the sun glisten on the dew-drops,
felt its rays warm my shoulders, and listened
to the singing of the birds with a consciousness
that, after all, sometimes it is pleasant to live.
Then came an unaccountable sinking. It
may have been something in the restfulness,
the security I had felt, incongruous with pesti-
lent war; just as amid the luxurious foliage of
the tropics one feels that behind every leaf and
flower lurks invisible fever. Suddenly the
shots rang out ; then came my reply to the
girl standing beside me looking at the dead
bushwhacker ; then my entry into the house ;
and now I was lying on a comfortable lounge,
an object of tender solicitude on the part of
people who, from being strangers, had sud-
denly become very dear friends.
But suppose they knew me — that I was a
renegade, a traitor to the South. There was
no name harsh enough among Confederates
for those of their own people who were not
"with them, and all who were not with them
were against them ; and doubtless these new-
found friends were all Confederate sympa-
thizers. The bushwhacker could tell no tales ;
I was thankful for that, for he had known me
"well. The thought of him took me back to
that night of horrors. I was again at the
head of those Tennessee Unionists, endeavor-
ing to lead them to a haven of safety. We
were near the Cumberland Gap ; one more
day and we should be at Camp Dick Robin-
son, where "we should find Federal troops.
Then the attack. By the flashing of guns I
could see their faces, and here and there recog-
8 SWEET REVENGE
nize a neighbor — men beside whom I had lived
for years, and whom civil war had converted
into fiends. One by one I saw my friends
shot down. There was one dearer to me than
all besides. Through the darkness, guided by
the flashes and the sound of my voice, sh^
darted to me, and found refuge in my arms.
Then that sudden dash of Confederate cav-
alry, I felt the figure I held quiver and slip
through my arms. I moaned, and kissed the
white lips. Then like lightning the wild beast
jumped within me. I looked up to see who
had done this last, this crowning atrocity. A
Confederate officer sat on his horse staring at
me, in his hand a smoking pistol. A sudden
collapse, and I knew that I was hit. This is
all I remembered of the massacre.
Plow I gloated in my revenge! The homes
of men who had committed those murders
were burning, and I had applied the torch.
Their barns, grain — everything they possessed
passed away in black spark-spangled clouds,
which shot upward as if to carry vengeance
to the very heavens. These men had made
my life a waste — I had made theirs a hell.
There was one I had not yet punished, one
whose punishment I longed for more than all
the rest — the Confederate officer with the smok-
ing pistoL I sought for him without success.
Then I tried to forget him ; but whenever I re-
membered that beloved figure fleeing to me for
protection, that tremor, that sinking away be-
fore the blight of death, I would start again
on my long hunt. I joined the army, thinking
that war's greater horrors might for a time
enable me to forget my feud. All went well
till I heard of him. He was at Hunts ville. I
burned to reach him. Our general was cast-
ing covetous eyes on Northern Alabama. I
beo-wd him to let me fi,o down and brino- back
a report of the country — the railroads, its roll-
ing-stock, machine-shops, bridges, everything
— a knowledge of which would assist in its
But this low cur who had tried to kill me.
He w\as at the massacre. With my own hand
I had applied fire to his miserable hut. How
had he known that I was in Alabama ? Had
he heard of me during my stay at Huntsville ?
It had been brief, for as soon as I reached the
town I learned that my enem}' was not there,
and, disappointed, turned my face northward.
Or had the bushwhacker met me by chance?
I did not know ; I do not know now. Of one
10 SWEET KEVENGE
thing I was certain : be was one of my old
enemies, and they would hunt me like a hare.
I lay for hours unwillingly turning over
these war horrors as if they were a wheel on
which I was obliged to tread. No one came
into the room and I called no one. Doubtless
they wished me to be quiet. I was weak and
tired — tired in mind, tired in body, tired of ex-
istence. If I could only find him the world
might vanish for all me.
I fell into a troubled slumber, and when I
awoke I saw standing in the doorway a girl
of eight or nine years — a frail, blue-eyed little
thing, with her hair cut square about her neck
and held by a semicircular comb. She was
gazing at me intently, as children in fairy tales
stand on tiptoe and look at the sleeping ogre
who is intending to eat them for supper.
"Come in," I said, encouragingly.
She shrank back. But though she seemed
to dread me, she could not keep away from
me. Without for a moment taking her eyes
off me she began to approach by slow, very
slow, steps. I felt as if I were a snake charm-
ing a bird.
" Don't be afraid of me," I said ; " I won't
"You killed him.'' She pointed like an ac-
cusing angel to the opposite side of the road,
where I had left the body of my would - be
assassin. Her voice was soft, but her e3^es
were big with the enormity of my act.
" Sweetheart, don't look at me that way ;
come and kiss me."
I reached out for her hand. She shrank
away, but I gently pulled her to me Avith my
well arm, drew her down, and kissed her. As
I touched her pure young lips with mine the
crimes of which I had been thinkinir — vivid
as the day they were committed — seemed to
move far from me, like a retreating storm
muttering in the distance. And somehow,
with this bit of innocence in my arm, my
beard brushing her cheek, looking into her
mild eyes, it seemed as if there had come a
patch of blue sky ; and I wished — yes, strange-
ly^ enough, I wished — that it had not been nec-
essary for me to shoot a man that morning.
These kind people with whom I was lodged
persisted in considering me always in danger.
A doctor must needs be at all times within
reach. A stripling of a medical graduate
must sleep in the same room with me. The
old gentleman was constantly coming into
the room to ask if I wanted anything, while
his wife was as tender and motherly as if I
had been her own son. Even the servants
vied with each other in waiting on me, and
when anything was ordered for me, with haste
unusual to the negro, scrambled to see which
one would bring it. Onl}'- the girl who had
brought me there came and went as though
I was an ordinary person with an ordinary
wound, to be treated in an ordinary manner.
All this attention and sympathy vexed me
beyond measure. What right had I to accept
it — I, a Tennesseean, in arms against the
South, in search of a Confederate enemy ?
Yes, and more. Was I not the bearer of in-
formation that would enable the hated Yan-
kee to swoop down on this fair region and re-
claim it for the Union ? The least suspicion
of ray true character would turn the devotion
lavished upon me to contempt. My very life
would be in danger. Pooh ! what cared I for
my life, except that I dreaded to go to ray
long home detested b}^ those who had suc-
cored me. Besides, the information I pos-
sessed — information of vital importance to the
Union cause — must be carried northward.
A crisis carae soon enough. It was evening,
and I was reclining on ray sofa looking out
upon the beautiful hills lying to the eastward.
The girl with the cool head and impassive
face was standing by a table rearranging
books and bottles and what not which had
been in use during the day. Suddenly the
door opened and ray host entered. I saw at
once by his expression that something had oc-
curred to put him on his guard ; or perhaps
he had been thinking, wondering what kind of
person he was harboring. At any rate, he
came up, and, drawing a chair beside rae, began
to talk. It was plain that he wished to ask
14 SWEET REVENGE
me questions, but lie was too kind, too gener-
ous to one in ray condition, too hospitable, to
ask them directly.
" The doctor tells me, Mr. — " he began.
" Upon my word, you have been with us three
days, sir, and we don't know even your name."
" Branderstane, John Branderstane. I am
equally ignorant to whom I am indebted for
all this attention."
" Our name is Stanforth, sir. This is my
daughter Helen, Mr. Branderstane."
Helen inclined her head sliglitly, and I raised
mine far enough from the pillows to do the
'•Mr. Stanforth," I said — there was grati-
tude both in my voice and in my eyes—" who-
ever bears your name may hereafter call upon
me for any service. You have placed me un-
der an obligation which — "
" Tut, tut ! You know our Southern cus-
toms — we are nothing if not hospitable. You
are a Southern man, of course?"
" Of course." I spoke the words hesitat-
" Your state ?"
" East, middle, or west ?"
Mr. Stanforth paused. There was no in-
formation as to my sentiments in the fact that
I hailed from East Tennessee. More than
two-thirds of the people of that section were
with the Union.
" May I ask, sir," said m}'^ host, with an ev-
ident intention of ending all doubt in regard
to the side with which I affiliated, " are you
a Union or a Confederate sympathizer?"
I was about to declare myself an ardent
supporter of the Confederacy when ray little
friend Ethel, who had visited me on the day I
was shot, appeared in the doorway, her blue
eyes looking straight into mine. Had my in-
tended falsehood been rammed back into my
throat with the butt of a revolver it could not
have been more effectually stopped. Then
something impelled me to turn my glance to
Helen. She was about to pour a liquid from
a phial into a glass, and had paused, her eyes
fixed on me intently.
" Mr. Stanforth," I said, " you and your fam-
ily have been too kind for me to deceive you.
I Avill not do that, but it would not serve my
purpose to declare myself."
" You are an honorable man, sir, whoever
16 SWEET EEVENGE
and whatever you are !" exclaimed Mr. Stan-
forth, warmly. " It ma}"^ be sometimes neces-
sary to withhold confidence ; but never to lie,
sir. Keep your secret, I shall not trouble you
for it. I am merely a citizen, and take no part
in the national dispute."
" But I do, papa."
I looked at Helen. She was regarding me
earnestly. " If this gentleman is with us,"
she said — " us of the South — he need not fear to
declare himself. If he is with the Yankees — "
" Helen !"
There was an uncomfortable silence, dur-
ino^ which Mr. Stanforth reo:arded his daughter
" If there is one right in the South," he said,
" sacred above all others, it is the right of hos-
pitality. Mr. Branderstane cannot be forced
to divulge his opinions."
" But has he a right to conceal them, papa ?"
" While our guest, he has."
" Mr. Stanforth," I said, " j^our daughter is
riirht. l^o man should remain under the roof
of one who has succored him without reveal-
ing his identity when it is called for. May I
ask you to order my horse ?"
I started up. I Avas too preoccupied to
notice the stand beside me covered with books,
with which I had vainly tried to alleviate ray
confinement, and struck my arm at the very
spot where I had been wounded.
A shiver passed over the father, the daughter
gave an involuntary start. My coat, which
had been thrown loosely over my shoulder,
had become disarranged, exposing the arm,
upon which every eye was turned. Both Mr.
Stanforth and Helen bent forward intently.
"We were congratulating ourselves that no
damage had been done when on the white
shirt-sleeve appeared a spot of bright red blood.
" Jackson ! — run ! — the doctor ! — quick !
Tell him the wound has opened."
I sank back on the sofa ; Mr. Stanforth be-
gan running about wildl}'- ; Mrs. Stanforth en-
tered in wonder ; the servants flocked in with
open eyes and mouths.
" Papa, your handkerchief."
Helen Stanforth spoke the words as coolly
as if she had been an experienced surgeon.
"With her father's handkerchief she impro-
vised a tourniquet, and the bleeding stopped
" Now see here," said the doctor, when he
had arrived and repaired the damage, "j^ou've
18 SWEET REVENGE
had a close call, sir. Perhaps you'll pay some
attention hereafter to what I tell you, sir."
" Next time, doctor," I said, feebly, " let me
go. My life is of little moment to me."
As I spoke, Helen, who had gone out of the
room for something, returned.
" Ah, Miss Stanforth," said the doctor, " I
will leave the patient in your care. You seem
to be always on hand when he needs you, and
to know exactly what to do. Let the others
" I will relieve you, doctor," she said, quietly.
The doctor gathered up his belongings and
left the room, leaving Helen standing looking
at me with a certain curious earnestness that I
could not interpret. As she had been the in-
direct cause of my mishap I naturally expected
she would refer to it, perhaps express some re-
o^ret. She was thinkins: of an entirely differ-
" Why is your life of little moment to you?"
" You overheard ?"
" You have a right to require me to disclose
my affiliations in the great struggle in which
we are involved, but my private griefs — "
" I ask your pardon.'' There was no regret
expressed ; it was simply a well-bred way of
noticing that she had failed to elicit the infor-
mation she desired.
" I should have got on well enough," I con-
tinued, " if that confounded stand had not been
in the way. I believe I could go now just as
well as not." I paused ; I was very weak.
"May I ask you to hand me that glass 'f I
added, looking at a tumbler containing brandy.
Without noticing the proof of my inability
to do as I asserted, she handed me the glass,
and, when I had taken a swallow, put it back
on the table. Her coolness was beffinning to
" I have a mind to get up and go on," I said.
" I don't believe there is any danger."
" What did the doctor say ?"
" He told me to keep quiet, as I valued my
" You don't value your life, therefore you
will get up and go on — in other words, com-
" You know veiy well that it galls me to
be obliged to impose upon a family that has
loaded me with kindness without declaring
20 SWEET KEVENGE
" Then why not declare it ?"
" Because it doesn't suit my plans to do so."
I w^as acting ungraciously, recklessly, and
I knew it ; but I was in no condition to fence
with this cool creature.
" Shall I leave you ?"' she asked, without
appearing at all offended.
" I don't need your attention."
" You need some one's attention. I will
have Jackson sit in the hall, where he can
hear you if you ring." And she walked out
of the room.
A DEFINITE OBJECT
"Will this unluck}^ wound never heal?
Time flies, and I, who should be up and doing,
am caged like a tiger walking back and forth
within the limits of its enclosure."
This was my complaint as I paced my room
one morning shortly after the accidental re-
opening of my wound. My impatience Avas
not without cause. I had gone South, as I
have said, with two objects : to find my ene-
my and to gather information. I had failed
in finding my enemy, but had gained a com-
plete knowledge of the points essential to the
capture of North Alabama, and was carrying
it to the general on the day I was shot. It
had occurred to me before setting out that,
after finishing my military mission, I might
still wish to continue my search for my en-
emy. Besides, there were other contingencies,
such as arrest or illness, which needed to be
22 SWEET REVENGE
provided for. I had, therefore, arranged that
the general's favorite scout should be at Hunts-
ville on the morning of the 1st of April to re-
ceive any communication I might find it nec-
essary to transmit. If I were prevented from
meeting him I was to send a messenger, and
had devised a code of signals by which he
might be recognized. The appointed day was
drawing near; I was not able to keep my ap-
pointment, and there was no one at hand to
whom I could intrust the message.
I chafed till I had exhausted my small store
of strength, then threw myself on my couch.
Little Ethel came in, and, like a soft ray
of sunlight breakinrr throiiirh storm-clouds,
turned my thoughts into gentler channels.
She held in her hand a bouquet of flowers
which it was easy to see she intended for me,
but needed encouragement to offer. I final-
ly induced her to do so, and to admit that
she had been out a long while looking for
them for me especially. I tried to unloosen
her tongue, to induce her to confide in me,
but in spite of all I could do she remained
shy, and there was ever present that awe she
had shown before of one who had taken a
A DEFINITE OBJECT 23
" Why do 3^ou look at me in that way ?" I
She made no reply, casting down her eyes
at my brown hand, which held her dimpled
" You mustn't dread me because I am
obliged to fight,'' I continued. " These are
war times ; there are a great many soldiers
in the land who think nothino: of killins: one
"Don't they?" She raised her eyes wide
open with surprise.
" Of course war is cruel, but — but it calls
out much that is noble."
" \Yhen they kill each other ?"
What puzzling questions to come from such
untutored lips. I was casting about for some
explanatory reply when a sudden interruption
reliev^ed my embarrassment. A negro boy
dashed into the room, through it, and out of
another door. He Avas followed by the white
boy I had noticed on the day of my arrival,
who was screaming :
" Doggone yo', Zac, I'll break eveiy bone
in yo' consarned black body !"
The words were scarcely out when he shot
through the door by which the fugitive had
24 SWEET REVENGE
vanished. Little Ethel looked after him with
frightened eyes, evidently dreading a catas-
" Who's that ?" I asked.
" Your brother ?''
" Don't be alarmed. That's only a boy's
passion ; it won't amount to anything."
" He says such dreadful words."
" That's habit ; he doesn't mean anything
by it ; but it's a habit that should be broken."
I soon got her quieted, and she prattled
about her dolls, her play-houses, some pet
rabbits, and a nook in the garden where she
kept them. How singular that war, which
absorbed all about her, should have no place
in her mind. Amid all the turmoil, the rum-
bling of cannon, the tramp of men and horses,
bushwhacking, skirmishing, battles, this inno-
cent little maid Avas strangely out of place.
Her mother came in presently and took her
away, fearing that she would anno}'^ me. I
was loath to part with her. No healing balm
had been applied to my wound so soothing,
so grateful, as was her prattle to my fevered
brain and chilled heart.
A DEFINITE OBJECT 25
They had scarcely left me when Buck
stalked into the room, his boyish face as free
from passion as if he had never been ruffled.
He had made several attempts to visit me,
notwithstanding that he had been forbidden
the room. Seeing the coast clear, he slipped
in unannounced and began a fire of questions.
"Does it hurt?"
" My arm ? Yes, it hurts some."
"I'm glad yo' plunked him."
"Why do you s^niipathize with me instead
of the other? You have only seen me a few
This was too much for him to explain. I
could see that he had conceived an admiration
for me, but he could not tell why.
"What did he try to kill you fo' ?" he asked.
" Well, perhaps it was because my existence
" What did you want to kill him fo' ?"
" I found it inconvenient to have him shoot-
ing at me."
"/'r/ like to shoot a man. I shot a rabbit
once, but that's purty small game. Pop, he
won't let me have a gun yet. He says I may
have one when I'm sixteen."
" Buck !" called a voice from the haU. The
36 SWEET REVENGE
boy dropped behind a sofa. An old negro
woman entered and looked around.
"Yo', Buck! yo' hidin' somewhar' ! Yo'
maw '11 spank yo' sho' ef she cotch y' hyar
troublin' the gemmlen. Come out o' dar ; I
knows whar y' air !"
I was about to interfere; but a natural dis-
taste at giving away a fellow-creature caused
me to desist.
"I tho't I hearn dat chile talken'." The
woman stood still a moment, but, hearing no
sound, lumbered out of the room. The boy
popped up from behind his hiding-place as
soon as she had gone.
" I like yoi^," were the first words he ut-
tered. '•'■You wouldn't tell on a feller, would
"How could I when you are glad I 'plunked'
my enemy ? Is that your mamm}'- ?"
" Yes ; that's Lib."
" jS'ursed you from a baby ?"
" Yes ; 'n' she reckons she's goen to nurse
me all my life."
" Is your name Buckingham ?"
" Buckingham ! No, I 'aint' got any such
doggone name as that ; my name's Buckeye."
" How did 3^ou happen to get that name ?"
A DEFINITE OBJECT 27
" 'Cause I was borned thar."
" Where ?"
" In Buckeye."
" Reckon 'tis the same."
I contemplated Buck for a while without
hearing any of the questions he continued to
fire at me. Why not intrust him with the
message? There was every reason why I
should not do so, except that he was devoted
to me and I had no one else to send. While
I was deliberating Lib came in, surprised him,
dragged him out of the room, and shut the
I heard footsteps on the veranda, then in
the hall, then ascending the staircase, as of
people carrying a burden. The door had evi-
dently been shut to prevent my seeing what
was being done. For a while there was a hur-
rving to and fro, and I knew that something
unusual had occurred. After all had been
quieted, Buck, who had meanwhile escaped
from his dusky captor, slipped back to forbid-
It occurred to me that I could draw from
Buck the solution of the recent commotion ;
but what passed under the roof of my friends
38 SWEET REVENGE
was no concern of mine, and I scorned to get
it from a mere boy. But I wished to test
Buck's power of reticence. Ten to one he had
been instructed not to talk to me about the
" Buck," I asked, " who came to the house
awhile ago V
"Wasn't anybody came to the house awhile
"A sick man, wasn't it?"
" No, he wasn't sick."
"I thought 3'ou said no one came?"
" No one did."
" Of course no one came ; he was carried."
" If yo' know so much about 't, Mr. Brandy-
stone, what's the use o' asken' me ?"
" You admit that whoever he was, he wasn't
" Of course he wasu't sick. How could he
be sick if he wasn't anybody ?"
There was a sudden rustling in the hall, and
Helen swept into the room, her eyes flashing
"Buck, leave the room!" she commanded, in
no uncertain tone. Buck gave a glance at his
sister, which told him he had better obey, and
walked out reluctantly.
A DEFINITE OBJECT 29
" You have been listening," I said, curtly.
" I have not. I was coming through the
hall and heard your last remark."
" And you infer that I was trying to get a
secret which does not at all concern me?"
" I most assuredly do."
"You are mistaken. I care no more for
what occurs in this house than for the color of
the dress you happen to wear. I had another
object in questioning your brother."
" I dare say you had."
" I wished to discover if he could keep a
" I dare say you did."
" I have intended nothing dishonorable."
" Fudge !" She snapped her fingers and her
eyes at the same time.
" You don't believe me. Very well ; I don't
believe that you were not eavesdropping."
" I was not eavesdropping !" she cried, hotly.
" You have the word of a Southern lady."
" And I was not trying to get your secret.
You have the word of a — " I stopped short.
I had run against a snag. She gave me a
glance of contempt and triumph. Her head
was up, a little to one side, her nostrils di-
lated, her breath slow and measured.
30 SWEET REVENGE
"Miss Stanforth," I said — I was near be-
traying what demanded secrecy — '.' I will prove
to you before night — no, not before night, but
soon — that I had another object. I will no
longer remain in a house the inmates of
which—" I made a step towards the door.
" Mr. Branderstane !"
" In addition to sailing under false colors, you
are now going to endanger your life by — "
" Fudge ! What is my life to you ?" I
snapped my fingers.
" A good deal just now. It is unpleasant
to have a person die on one's hands."
I was in no condition for this encounter. A
buzzing was going on in my ears, a tingling
sensation in my limbs. My knees were giv^-
ing way, and I was obliged to sit down on the
sofa. I looked longingly at a bottle of brandy
that stood on the table, but was too proud to
ask for it. In a moment Helen had poured
some of the liquor into a tumbler and held it
to my lips. I drank a reviving draught ; she
put her hands on my shoulders and gently
forced me to lie down.
" This must not occur again," she said.
" You have no strength to go, and I have no
A DEFINITE OBJECT 31
right to excite you while in your present con-
dition. I believe what you told me." She
put out her hand.
" Pardon," I said, humbly. " When calm
I would as soon think of accusing you of
eavesdropping as I would accuse Diana of un-
chastity. I have been ungallant, rude — rude
to a woman."
" Forget it. Lie still, and you will soon be
yourself again." She sat down by a table
and took up a book. " I will sit here and
read while you recover your strength."
She read for perhaps half an hour. I sup-
posed she was interested in the book, for she
turned one page after another and seemed to
have forgotten me. At last she put down the
volume, and by her first words convinced me
that instead of being interested in it she had
been thinking of my puzzling identity.
" I want to ask you one question."
'^ Ask it."
" Where did you come from the day the
shooting occurred ?"
She had asked the one question and had re-
ceived her reply. I knew by her expression
that she wanted to ask another.
32 SWEET KEVENGE
" I suppose you were there long enough to
become acquainted with the city. It's a
" I was there a week."
The limit of one question having been over-
stepped in this indirect fashion, it was easier
for her to proceed.
"What were you doing there?"
" Looking for some one."
" A man ?"
" What for ?"
I did not reply at once. I was thinking of
some plan by which to put an end to her cate-
" If I tell you," I said, presently, " will you
promise to ask me no more questions ?"
" If you prefer that I should not."
" You wish to know why I was seeking my
man at Huntsville ?"
" I do."
" You will keep what I tell you a secret ?"
" To kill him."
Little Buck had stood my test as to his
reticence so well, and I was at such desperate
straits for a messenger, that I resolved to use
him. After breakfast I waited for a while, hop-
ing that he would come to ray room; but as
he did not, and I feared he was deterred by
the autocratic Lib, I called Jackson and told
him to tell the bo}^ I wished to see him. I
took a Confederate bill from ray pocket and
handed it to the darky, but he went off
grumblinof " that he didn't want no Yankee
money, and mas'r wouldn't hab no niggar o'
his'n taken' money from a stranger nohow."
He sent Buck to me, w^ho came in looking
somewhat astonished that I should take suflB.-
cient interest in him to call for him.
" Buck," I said, " I have something impor-
tant to say to you."
"What is it, Mr. Brandystone ?"
34 SWEET KEVENGE
" Branderstane. Please don't make that
" I won't, sho."
" Back, I'm thinking of sending you on an
errand ; but it's a great secret."
The boy's eyes grew as big as saucers. I
looked at him for a few moments to observe
the effect of my announcement, and then went
." If you should tell an}^ one, it might cost me
my life. You wouldn't tell, w^ould 3^ou ?"
" Tell ! Why, sooner 'n tell I'd— I'd— ruther
be a — a — a — dead rat out in the back yard."
'• I believe I'll trust you. Do you know the
road to Iluntsville?"
"I reckon so; I've been over it more 'n a
" Got a pony ?"
" Yes ; ' Pete.' Hel'n, she drives him in the
buggy. She calls him hern, but he isn't, he's
mine. I g-ot a bio; dog, too."
" Never mind the dog. Could you get out
your pony and ride into Iluntsville without
any one suspecting you were going on my ac-
" Well, now, why don' y' give me somet'n
WON OVER 35
" Go and get me a newspaper or an alma-
He was out of the room and back in a mo-
ment with a Huntsville paper of that morn-
ing's issue. I scanned its columns before look-
ing at the date, and noticed this item:
"The main body of the Yankees are marching from
Nashville to Columbia en route, it is supposed, to Pitts-
burgh Landing, where they will doubtless join the Fed-
eral General Grant."
Looking at the heading, I sa\A^ that the date
was the 1st of April.
"Now, Buck,'' I said, "get out your pony;
then come to me for instructions."
" Look a-hyar, Mr. Brandy— Brandj'stone — "
"Well, Mr. Brandinstane, if you got any
'structions I reckon yo' better give 'm to me
now. Mebbe if I come back hyar that dog-
gone ole Lib '11 come in 'n yank me out."
" You're right. Reach me that sheet of
note-paper and a book to write on — that thin
one ; now a pencil. All right. Don't say a
word till I have finished."
I wrote a message in as infinitesimal char-
acters as I was able, on a third of a sheet of
36 SWEET REVENGE
" Macliiiie-shops at Iluntsville in good order. Fifteen
to twenty locomotives. Nearly a hundred cars. No force
in the town. To tiie east, road runs parallel witli and
near the pike for several miles and is handy to cut. To
the west, parly to cut the road must pass round the city
on the north. Eueiny gathering all possible forces at
Piltsburgli Landing, but several thousand men at Chat-
I put neither address nor signature to it, as
none were necessary, and they would be con-
clusive evidence against me if the message
should fall into the wrong hands.
" Buck," I said, " mount your pony and ride
to Huntsville. A few minutes before twelve
o'clock go into the Huntsville Hotel; you
know — the big brick house on the square. Go
up-stairs and out on the front gallery. At
twelve o'clock a man with black eyes, long
hair, and a pointed beard will walk out on the
gallery. Don't say anything to him ; wait,
and after a while he'll say something to you."
" Will he V asked the boy, his eyes full of
wonder. " What '11 he say ?" ,
" He'll say, ' It's a fine day.' "
" What ! If it's rainen' ?"
" Yes ; rain or shine, if he's the man 3'ou
want, he'll say, ' It's a fine day.' Then you
must sa}'^, 'Reckon you're weather-wise,
"WON OVER 37
stranger.' To that he'll reply by asking you
what kind of weather it was the day of the
" What massacre ? What's a massacre ?"
" Never mind that. Stick to the lesson I'm
teaching you. You must say, ' Black as night.'
Then he'll say, ' What's the word V and you
can hand him this note. Now, suppose I'm
the man with the pointed beard and you go
throuo;h the dialofi^ue with me."
I put him through his lesson till he had
learned it perfectly ; then I sent him away
with the injunction that in case anything
should go wrong with him, rather than part
Avith the paper he was to swallow it. I rolled
it into a ball and put it into the lining of his
hat. Giving his little hand a squeeze, I bade
him go, and he marched out as proudly as if
he had been appointed Military Governor of
Alabama. I had no doubt he would execute
his mission to the best of his ability, but he
was very young, and I feared he would make
" What a fool I am !" I exclaimed, as soon
as he was gone. " I should have failed to
communicate rather than intrust so impor-
tant a matter to a boy. However, I'll leave
38 SWEET REVENGE
here to-morrow morning, and if my message
miscarries, by the time it's discovered I'll be
Helen came in soon after Buck's departure
and began to set the room to rights. She at-
tended to her work silently, and did not even
look at me. I watched her as she moved
about, arranging a curtain here, moving a
chair there, or piling books on the table more
neatl3^ She was a true type of a Southern
woman — tall, willowy, a head set on her shoul-
ders in a way to make an artist involuntarily
reach for a brush. Her hair and eyes were as
black as night, while on her cheeks was a
bright color. There was something on her
mind, I could see that plainly. I fancied if I
gave her time it would come out. At last she
dropped her work and stood looking out of
" What are you thinking about ?"' I asked,
going at the subject with brusque directness.
" The man you came to Alabama to kill."
" You would shield him ?"
She kept her eyes on the road, watching a
wagon that lumbered by. " I don't know
whether I would or not."
" You want to know all about hhn ?"
WON OVER 39
" I do."
"In the first place, you would like his
" It might be well to begin with that."
" Then I can't begin, for I don't know his
"IS^ot know his name?"
" What is he like ?"
" Tall, well built, square shoulders which
he throws back, like an officer in the regular
army of the United States."
I paused. She waited for me to continue.
"You would also like to know whether his
death would bereave any one : a father, moth-
er, sister — some woman who hangs upon every
word he says when he is with her, and dreams
of him constantly when he is away ?" I spoke
the words bitterl}'. I was thinkiug of my
" Yes, I would like to know that too."
" I can't satisfy you. I have seen him only
once, and then at a distance."
" Does he Avish to kill you ?"
" No ; I don't believe he is aware of my ex-
"Singular," she murmured, thoughtfully.
40 SWEET KEVENGE
Then she turned and looked me in the face.
" He has occasioned you some great sorrow —
done you some mighty wrong?"
"You promised to ask me no more ques-
" True. I beg your pardon."
Another woman would have pouted, coaxed,
done everything but asked openly to have her
curiosity gratified. Helen Stanforth was made
of sterner stuff. She stood looking out of the
window without another word. I waited till
I was satisfied that she was too proud to ask
for favor, then started in again with the pur-
pose of watching the development of some
" You are heart and soul a Confederate ?"
" I am."
" And you will not excuse those Southern
men and Avomen who differ with you?"
" Yes, if they do it openly."
This was a cut at me which I did not care
to notice. " Have you ever seen," I asked,
" men forced at the point of the bayonet to
enter the Confederate army ? Have you ever
seen families, trying to leave the South to
join those with whom they affiliated, shot
down in their tracks ?"
WON OVER 41
" You are a Union man, or you ^yould never
talk that way," she interrupted.
" I was born and bred in Tennessee."
" Yes, in East Tennessee."
" May I not have seen great wrong done,
and yet given my heart and soul to the South-
ern cause ?"
" You may, but have not."
She was getting too near the truth. I must
throw her off the trail.
" I will impart one more piece of informa-
tion with regard to myself. You have prom-
ised to ask no more questions and have kept
your promise ; you deserve a reward."
I took from my pocket a letter and held it
up to her. It was addressed to
MAJOR JOHN BRAXDEHSTAXE,
— th Tennessee Cavalry
Her face lighted. She did not know there
were Tennessee regiments in the Union ser-
vice. "I knew you were a soldier, and now
I know you are a Confederate." She put out
her hand, but I did not take it.
" No, no," I said, " I will not take an unfair
advantage of you. That evidence is not con-
clusive. I have shown it to you to prove that
42 SWEET REVENGE
I may be what I will. I could offer as good
proof that I am a Yankee."
" I don't care who you are, you are an hon-
" I see no reason for you to assume that."
" You have said it would be easy for you to
prove to me that you are what I wish you to
" But you wuU not. You have reason to re-
main unknown. You have a great purpose.
You have been robbed of some one you love.
You have suffered from some of those outrages
in East Tennessee that papa has told us about.
There has been a cowardly murder. You will
be revenged. I know it; I feel it."
She w^as splendid in her indignation, her
sympathy. I protested against this burst of
confidence, but to no purpose. Were I the
veriest demon in Moloch's train no one could
convince her of it. I was not learned in the
ways of women, but I had gained an insight
into this girl's nature. Though it smouldered,
it was emotional. No light kindling could set
it aflame. There must be some strong underly-
ing impulse. The purpose that I had revealed
to her had taken hold of her imagination.
WON OVER 43
But it troubled her that I should withhold
my secret from her. She gave me an appeal-
" Why do you not trust me ?"
" I do trust you. Am I not at your mercy ?
Should you inform the authorities that you
have an unaccounted-for man under your roof
I sliould be arrested at once."
"I would never do that."
''No; but will you aid me in remainine; in-
She was silent. There was evidently a ques-
tion which she was trying to solve. '' Would
that be helping you to kill your man?" she
'' Suppose it would ?"
There was a dangerous glitter in her eye.
Perhaps she experienced a fascination in being
thus indirectly a party to my Avork of ven-
" You have not answered my question," I
Still she was silent. The blood was cominof
and going Aurora-like on her neck and cheek.
Presently she drew her lips together tightly
as if she were striking an enemy —
" I will."
" Have you a man by the name of Brander-
stane stopping- with you V
I heard the words spoken at the front door
in a pleasant voice, in Avhich there was some-
thing languid. My heart began a vigorous
thumping. Looking out of the window I saw
a troop of Confederate cavalry at the gate, and
men darting in different directions. I knew
that the house was being surrounded. Helen
went out to meet the inquirer.
" Do you wish to see Mr. Branderstane ?"
Helen must have suspected that I was in
danger. There was a slight pause, in which I
fancied she was deliberating what to do.
" He is in a critical condition," she said.
" He was wounded recently. Is your business
with him important V
AEKEST . 45
" Very important."
" Show the gentleman in, if you please, Miss
Stanforth," I called. I knew there was noth-
ing to be gained by attempting to put the man
off. I must appear unconcerned.
She led the way to where I was. A young
man m the uniform of a Confederate captain
entered. He was a handsome fellow, with an
mdolent, self - indulgent air, and evidently a
gentleman. He was extremely deferential to
Helen, carrying his hat in his hand and bear-
ing himself as if it pained hun to thus trespass
upon the household.
" Are yo' John Branderstane, sir V
" At your service. And 3'ou V
" Captain Beaumont, — th Geowgia Cavalry,
" What can I do for you, captain ?"
" I must trouble you to get up and come
" On what authority ?"
"My own, sir. It has been reported to me
that a Southern man working in the Yankee
ijiterest is here, and I have come to take him."
" Don't 3'ou think that an arbitrary way to
treat a citizen of Tennessee, captain ?"
"Not when he has Yankee affihations."
46 SWEET KEYENGE
" By what right do you accuse me of Yan-
" You were watched all the time you were
at Iluntsville, sir. There was no evidence
against you, and you were allowed to leave the
city ; but after you had got away a man came
forward who claimed to have seen you in one
of the Yankee camps at Nashville."
" Indeed ? Did he explain his own presence
This was a home-thrust. The captain hesi-
"It seems to me, captain," I added, follow-
ing up my advantage, " that you are hasty in
acting on such information."
Helen spoke up : " My father was at Nash-
Yille soon after the surrender. AYould you ar-
rest him V
" The information comes pretty straight. I
reckon you'll have to come along."
"His wound is liable to open," said Helen,
"and if it should there might be a fatal re-
She spoke with apparent indifference, but
she could not avoid betraying some interest.
The officer looked up at her with a pair of soft
brown eyes inquiringly. I saw at once that
he suspected a tender relationship between us,
but he was too well-bred to tread upon so del-
icate a matter.
" lie can remain where he is until he is bet-
ter," he said, bowing to Helen, " if you will
give me your word — the word of a Southern
lady — that he shall not leave your house till
we call for him/'
Helen cast an inquiring look at me to know
if she should give the pledge. I saw that a
glance would enable me to remain where I
was, and if I chose, after the departure of the
troop, leave the house, with Helen to bear the
responsibility of my going.
"Konsense, man!" I said, rising, "Do you
suppose I'm going to permit a woman to stand
between you and me? You are a gentleman,
if you are taking it upon yourself to arrest
whom you please. And I'm enough of a gen-
tleman not to avail myself of your proffered
avenue of escape. If I must go, I must.
Where do you intend to take me, captain ?"
By this time several men who had followed
the officer pushed their way into the room. I
received no reply to my question, but was
ordered to get up and go with them. The
members of the familv, discovering that some-
48 SWEET KEVENGE
thing had gone wrong, flocked about, and it
was easy to see that though they did not un-
derstand why I was arrested, they were all in
sympathy with me. Mrs. Stanforth seemed
greatly distressed ; Mr. Stanforth attempted
to argue my case for me— of course to no pur-
pose ; the negroes were all indignant. AVhile
waitino' for mv horse I heard Lib deliverino:
herself in the back hall :
" Wha' fo' dat mis'able osifer wid he sleeves
covered all ober wid deni goP snakes goen' t'
'rest a fine South'n gemmlen like dat ? Dat wha'
yo' call freedom ? Colored folks got mo' free-
dom den dat. I hea'h mas'r talken' 'bout 'stu-
tional libe'y. Wha's de use o' 'stutional libe'y
when de oder man got he hand on yo' collar?"
I heard no more, for I was conducted out to
the gallery. Just as I started down the walk
Ethel appeared with curious eyes, and I paused
to take her up and give her a parting kiss. I
cast a glance at Helen. There was intense in-
terest in her face, but among so many emotions
I could not discover which predominated. I
went with the soldiers down to the gate, where
I found my horse, and, mounting, a cavalryman
on each side of me, rode away with the troop.
We proceeded up the pike for a short dis-
tance, then, crossing the railroad track, struck
a road which bent to the east.
" Captain," I said, " I don't like the direc-
tion you are going. If your intentions were
not murderous you would take rae to Hunts-
ville and examine into the charge against me.
It appears that you are taking me into the
country to dispose of me."
"I am on m}'^ way to join my squadron near
Brownsborough, sir, where yo' will have an
opportunity to face you' accuser. If yo' are
innocent yo'll have no trouble; yo' can en-
list in my company."
" Thank you ; do I look like a man who
would go begging for a commission ?"
"I beg yo' pardon, sir;" and he lifted his
I had retained my coolness thus far, but I
confess I did not like the situation. As a
Southern man, used to Southern people, I felt
a certain confidence; yet if it were known
that I was a Union officer I would be put out
of the way without benefit of clergy. Who
was the man who had informed against me ?
What did he know ? The more I thought
about it the more intense became my anxiety.
Suddenly I looked up and saw whit-e tents.
50 SWEET REVENGE
I knew at once by the looks of the camp that
it contained one or two companies of cavahy.
There was a raih^oad bridge near by, crossing
Avhat I knew to be Flint River, and I judged
that the cavalry was guarding this bridge.
I had forgotten my unlucky wound and
was intent on the camp, when, passing under
overhanging branches, a stiff bough scraped
my arm, and I felt at once that it had been
injured. I told the captain of my fears, and
we halted to make an examination. Taking
off my coat, there, as I expected, was a stain
of fresh blood on my shirt-sleeve.
" You needn't trouble yourself to murder
me," I remarked ; " that wound is a better en-
emy than all my others together."
The captain cast glances about him for a
house. He had no intention of murdering me
or. being a party indirectly to my death.
"While he was making a survey of the sur-
rounding countr}'^ I was twisting my handker-
chief above the wound.
" Can you get to that plantation T he
I looked up and saw a large manor-house
about half a mile distant, with its Hanking
rows of neii:ro huts.
" I can try it.""
We mounted and rode on, and in a few min-
utes passed into the gateway between impos-
ing stone posts, proceeding by a winding way
to tlie house. I was glad to dismount and get
inside the spacious hall out of the sun. There
I sat down on an old-fashioned, hair-cloth, ma-
A number of white and negro children, who
were playing together as contentedly as if
the pickaninnies were not the property of their
fair-skinned playmates, stood gaping at me.
A slim man with a determined mouth, at the
corners of which were marks of tobacco juice
— he turned out to be an overseer — an equally
thin elderly woman, whom I heard addressed
as Miss Pinkley, and a quadroon girl made up
the group. I was sitting with my head rest-
ing against the sofa-back, weak and despond-
ent. Suddenly down the great winding stair-
case came a young girl with a shapely petite
figure, a pretty oval face, and an olive com-
plexion, from which two almond-shaped eyes
flashed at me and the group about me with
the quintessence of astonishment. Running
her words together in a way peculiar to her-
self, she asked :
52 SWEET KEVENGE
"What's the matter?"
"The gentleman's bleeding from a wound
in the arm, Miss Jack," said the quadroon
" AVho is he? What is he? Is he ffoino- to
die?" She fired the words as if they were
" Jaqueline," put in the elderl}^ hid}^ called
Miss Pinkley, " don't ask so many questions
at once." Then she went up- stairs, remark-
infi: that she would brini]: her smellino' salts.
" I don't think I'm going to die just yet," I
said, smiling encouragingly at the young gii'l,
whose interest I had excited. " I received a
Nvound a few days ago and have had very bad
luck with it. Anything that hits me never
fails to strike the tender spot."
"Why don't you He down? Cynthia, go
Cynthia, the quadroon girl, was engaged at
that moment trying to drive away the chil-
dren, and did not at once obey.
" Cynthia, go get pillows !" repeated Miss
Jaqueline, stamping her foot.
It occurred to me that this 3'oung girl pos-
sessed an unbridled disposition. Cynthia, who
was doubtless used to her mistress's way of
speaking, went for the pillows, and when they
arrived Miss Jack made me lie down, whether
I would or not, and covered me with a shawl,
sprinkling me all the while with such a warm
shower of devotion that, despite her irate or-
der to her maid, she quite Avon my heart.
Looking out through the hall door I saw a
fat man bestride a lean horse, with saddle-
bags, wiping the perspiration from his face
and riding up to the gallery. He dismounted
and entered, puffing for breath, and proved to
be a countrv doctor. Puttins: on a ffrave
face, he examined m}'^ wound critically, and
made great ado at dressing and bandaging it;
then delivered the usual admonition. He de-
parted, leaving me l3ing on the sofa. Miss
Jack beside me, ministering to wants that
were not wanted, devising schemes to meet
requirements that were not required. Sud-
denly the two guards attracted her attention.
They had been in the hall ever since my ar-
rival, but had not until this moment excited
" What are you doing here ?" Though her
words were spoken sharply, her voice was
soft and musical.
" On guard," replied one of the men.
54 SWEET REVENGE
" This isn't your house. Go ' way from here."
" Hain't got no orders."
" I give you orders." Fire was beginning
to dart from her eyes.
I interfered. " They are only doing their
" They have no right in tliis house."
" But if you drive them out they will take
me with them."
" Will they?" Her manner changed. "Never
mind," she said to the guard, " please don't
leave us ; I wouldn't have you go for the
world. You're quite ornamental : one on one
side of the door, the other on the other side,
like statues; men-at-arms in castle halls."
The men looked at each other foolishly and
grinned. The girl went up to one of them
and asked him to let her examine his carbine.
He did not quite like to let it go, but she took
it Avithout saying " by your leave."
" What a funny gun I How short ! How
many times can you fire it off? I wonder
if I could shoot with it I"
She brought it up to her shoulder, and, after
pointing it to the wall, levelled it first at one
man, then at the other. They both looked a
trifle nervous, but said nothing. Then she
made a motion to cock it when the muzzle
was covering one of tlie men, and he protest-
ed. She burst into a merry laugh.
" What a brave man ! Can't stand being
pointed at by a girl ! Ever in a battle ?
What's it like ?"
The soldier made no reply, but reached for
his carbine, and seemed very much relieved
when she suffered him to take it. There was
no more play, for at that moment we heard
the sound of horses' hoofs, and, looking out
through the hall doorway, I saw two men
riding up to the house. The one was Captain
Beaumont, the other Tom Jaycox, the bitter-
est of all my Tennessee enemies, and upon
whom I had visited most summary punish-
ment for the part he had taken in the mas-
sacre. In another minute they had dismount-
ed and ascended the steps of the gallery,
then came rapidly through the hall. Captain
Beaumont's appearance denoted that there was
something on his mind of great moment.
His companion lumbered along beside him
with the appearance of one looking for some-
thing or some one of peculiar interest to him.
He was a short, thick-set man in corduroy
trousers, a double-breasted vest, open, no coat.
56 SWEET REVENGE
and a broad-briniraed straw hat, the hue of
wliich indicated that it had served for several
summers. His nose had been broken, and he
had lost an eye. A coarse, stubby, brown-and-
gray beard grew on his chin. An uglier speci-
men of the poor wdiite of the South could
scarcely be imagined, and the moment I saw
him, knowing of his enmit37^ for me, I gave
myself up for lost.
" There he is," said Captain Beaumont.
" I reckoned so," replied the other ; "' he's
" Who is he ?" asked Miss Jack, quickly.
" A renegade from the South, an abolition
hound — one o' our East Tennessee dogs. What
he's doen' hyar I dun no, but I reckon he's on
some errant fo' the Yankee gineral at Mur-
Suddenly all the careless, indolent demeanor
of the captain deserted him. With true South-
ern impulse, without stopping to investigate
the charge, he was fired by the story that
he held in his hands one who, though a South-
erner, was hunting information for the detest-
" Guard !" he called.
The two men approached.
" Take him away and see that he doesn't
get back here. I don't want ever to see him
I was stunned. I knew well what this or-
der meant. I had heard it given in case of
outlaws, and knew that it was the form in
which orders were given to take men out and
shoot them. Many a guerilla received his
sentence in those words.
"Captain," I cried, "if you shoot me you
will commit a murder ! That man " — pointing
to the brute beside him — " is the real mur-
derer. I know liim well. I saw him shoot-
ing down women and children. I saw him — "
I stopped short. There was an incredulous
look on the captain's face. I knew that my
accuser had his confidence. I realized that
denials and counter accusations were expected
from one in my position, and would have no
Jaqueline, though she could not have un-
derstood the captain's order, from my words •
and from my stricken appearance realized the
situation. She stood paralyzed, but only for
a moment. While the guards were advancinfj
towards me she stole up to the captain arid
slipped her arm through his. When he looked
58 SWEET REVENGE
down at her she was gazing up into his face
with the perfection of coquetry. I watched
the effect eagerl}'-. His first expression was
one of surprise, then all severity died away;
an amused look followed, mingled with admi-
ration, and at last he broke into a pleasant
AN AMATEUR SOUBRETTE
I HAVE seen men disarmed in various ways:
by argument, fear, force ; but never have I
seen one so quickly vanquished as he who was
about to rush me off to execution. His in-
tended act was most unwarranted, and had he
been induced to refrain by logical arguments
I should not have been surprised. But Jaque-
line knew nothino; of loo;ic or the merits of the
case. She used no plea ; she conquered by a
" What a queer man !"
" Who — I V The captain's smile broadened.
" Queerest man I ever saw. What do yo'
want to take him away fo' ? Don't y' know
he's wounded, and we just got him fixed upC"
" You don't mean it !" He spoke as defer-
entially as if the information were really a
surprise to him.
" Don't want ever to see him again ? What
60 SWEET REVENGE
a grumpy thing you must be I Suppose I'd
say I wanted never to see you again ?"
" YouVl break my heart."
All this was not to the liking of the cap-
tain's companion. " Well, captain," he put in,
" what y' goen' ter do ? Goen' ter let him lay
thar to be coddled b}^ the fambly ?"
" Yo' hush !" cried Jaqueline, with suddenly
flashing eyes. The man started back. Pos-
sibly he was unused to such quick transitions.
" Yo' can't take him away till his arm gets
well. 'Spose he bleeds to death ? You'd have
his blood on yo' hands. Just think of that!"
Considering that tiiey had intended to take
me out and shoot me, the warning was, to say
the least, amusing. Every one burst into a
lauofh ; indeed, I could hardly refrain from
joining in it myself, notwithstanding my criti-
" You certainly don't want to commit a
gross blunder, captain," I remarked. " You
can at least give me some sort of a trial."
" Reckon I can refer the matter to head-
quarters," lie replied, fixing his eyes on Jaque-
It was a delicate scale that balanced life
and death in war time, and often required only
AN AMATEUR SOUBRETTE 61
a feather's weight to turn it. It had been turn-
ed, for the time, and turned effectually. The
guards were ordered back, and the captain
sauntered away with my accuser, who ex-
postulated as they passed out of the house
on to the galler3^ Pulling a cigar out of his
pocket, Captain Beaumont sat down in a rock-
ing-chair and began to smoke as tranquilly as
if nothing unusual had happened, listening
composedly to the ruffian who was trying to
s:et him to shoot me. But Beaumont was now
as difficult to move, as imperturbable, as he had
been before irate, and Jaycox at last went
away disappointed. He gave me a malignant
glance before going, which said, plainly, " I'll
fix you yet."
The captain continued sitting where he was,
his head resting on the back of the rocker,
looking dreamily up at the waving branches
of a large tree set against the blue sky. Sup-
per Avas announced, and Jaqueline, taking a
rose, went out, and, fixing it in a buttonhole
of his coat, led him into the dining-room.
Before passing out of sight she turned and
gave me a meaning glance, accompanied by a
wry face at her companion. As the captain's
back was turned, it was safe for me to indulge
63 SWEET REVENGE
ill a smile. Indeed, I fear I could hardly have
refrained had his face been towards me. This
little Jaqueline was certainly unique.
While they were at supper I was deliberat-
ing upon the situation. It w^as evident that my
old enemies had either stumbled upon me or
had learned of my presence in Korth Alabama,
and were bent on my destruction. It was a
desperate case. I was an officer in the Union
army, within the enemy's lines, in citizen's
dress, and in that enemy's hands. I was
hounded by men who would not scruple to
use any means to get me into their power. If
I did not escape from the Confederates I
should hang; if I did escape I should be
Presently Jaqueline and the captain came
out from the supper-room, Jaqueline in ad-
vance, the captain's eyes fixed on the pretty
ligure before him. Jaqueline was very grace-
ful, very dainty. Her every motion was charm-
ing. She was so light on her feet that she
seemed scarcely to touch the ground. Though
she walked, she danced, while her eyes danced
with her body, her lips wearing a perpetual
smile. Once she took two or three steps, turn-
ing half around— a lYiere suspicion of a dance
AN AMATEUR SOUBKETTE 63
— a delicious, tantalizing bit, like a sip of rare
'' I'd like to meet yo' in a ball-room," re-
marked the captain, languidly.
" Why so ?"
"Yo' would dance beautifully; yo'd make
a charming partner."
" I can sing."
" Can you ?"
" Yes, and play. One day I was playing
Ginger's banjo behind the barn. Papa called,
'Yo' Ginger, stop that infernal twanging!'
Wasn't it funny ?"
She laughed ; the captain laughed ; I
laughed. There was something very catching
about the little minx that neither of us could
She drew an arm-chair close beside the sofa
on which I was lying, and insisted on the cap-
tain seating himself in it. He demurred, but
Miss Jack would have it so, and the man, who
half an hour before had ordered me out to be
shot, was sitting by me as though we were ex-
cellent friends. Jaqueline seated herself in a
rocker directly in view of both myself and the
captain, and, rocking vigorousl}' all the while,
chatted like a magpie. The captain settled
64 SWEET REVENGE
himself within his comfortable seat, asked per-
mission to smoke, and, finding tliat he had but
one cigar, insisted on my smoking it. Of
course I refused, but he was too innately well-
bred to smoke it himself without another for
me. Miss Jack solved the }3roblem by stand-
ing; before him with a lio'hted match till he
was forced to yield.
Then from without came the jingle of a
banjo. Jaqueline caught the sound and stood
listening, her head poised on one side, her eyes
sparkUng as though forgetful of ever^'thing
save the music.
"That's 'The Bonny Blue Flag'!" she ex-
claimed, and she hummed the words in a
sweet though bj'^ no means strong voice. As
she went on she sang rather than hummed,
becoming more and more animated, keeping
time by patting her foot on the floor. I
glanced at the captain. He was looking at her
admiringly, the charm enhanced at hearing a
war-song dear to every Confederate soldier,
given with so much spirit by such an attrac-
Suddenly the music stopped.
" Don't yo' like music ?" asked Jaqueline of
the captain, ^^/do — I love it."
AN AMATEUK SOUBRETTE 65
"I like it when warbled by such attractive
lips," replied the officer.
Then the banjoist without played a Spanish
dance. Jaqueline's body began to vibrate.
But, though alive in every limb, she did not
dance. There was something tantalizing in a
promised treat that was not realized.
" Dance !" cried the captain, an expectant
look in his handsome eyes.
" Do, please," I put in.
As a bird that lias been soaring slowly sails
away in its expected course, Jaqueline passed
from comparative rest to motion. In another
moment she was moving about the hall with
improvised steps, as though dancing was, to
use a paradoxical expression, her normal con-
dition of rest. She floated, drooped, rose, rest-
ed, keeping time with her head, her arms, her
whole body. For a while I Avas so delighted
that I forgot all except the dance, and when I
bethought myself to look at the captain it
was easy to see that the thrall Jaqueline had
been weaving about him was complete.
" Jaqueline !"
Miss Pinkley had entered the hall and stood
looking at her severely. Jaqueline stopped as
66 SWEET REVENGE
suddenly as if she had been moved by electric-
ity and the current had been turned off.
" I'm astonished at yo','' said the lady.
" Yo've made the acquaintance of these gen-
tlemen only this afternoon, and here yo' are
dancing befo' them as if yo' were a soubrette
in a theatre."
" My dear madam," I interposed, " you have
no idea of the pleasure she has given us. She
would be a grand success on any stage."
"Do yo' think so?" queried Jaqueline,
triumphantly. " I'd love to dance on the
"Jaqueline!" again cried Miss Pinkley.
"What's the harm, auntie? I'm not on the
" Yes, but you want to be. To think of a
Rutland on the stage ! Yo' pa would be mavv-
tified to death."
She passed up- stairs, and Jaqueline began
affain to rattle on in her singular wav. Sud-
denly it struck her that she w^anted Ginger's
banjo, and, calling Cynthia, she sent her for it.
Then, after testing the strings, she began to
play and sing. The music was light but sweet,
being composed chiefly of those unique negro
melodies, born under the slave system as deli-
AN AMATEUR SOUBKETTE 67
cate plants sometimes spring up among poi-
Without warning she put the banjo down
and began to talk again, skipping from one
subject to another, astonishing us by her con-
fidences, sometimes asking questions but sel-
dom waiting for an answer. Presentl}^ I spoke
of my stay at the Stanforths.
" The Stanforths !" she cried. " Do you
know 'em ?"
" Yes ; do you ?"
" Ought to ; they're my cousins. Did you
see Minerva ?"
"No. Who's Minerva?"
"Her real name is Helen, We called her
Minerva at school. I went to school with her
two vears. She's older than I, though."
"I have met Miss Helen Stanforth."
" If you refer to the young lad}'^ we met to-
da}^," the captain remarked, " she's a ver}'- beau-
tiful and high-bred woman — much like our
" She knows ever3"thing," said Jaqueline ;
" theology, geology, biology, psychology. Any
more of 'em ?"
" That's quite enough," I admitted.
"Did vou see Buck?"
68 SWEET REVENGE
" Oh yes ; Buck and I became quite friendly."
" Friendly ! Buck was born to be hanged."
" What makes you think that ?"
" Most fiery, pestiferous little imp yo' ever
saw! Doesn't stop at anything."
"Mere flashes of a strong nature. When
he grows up he'll control it and be all the
stronger for it."
"Think so? If he was black and I owned
him, I'd have him whipped every day."
A colored woman came in and told the cap-
tain that Miss Pinkley presented her compli-
ments, and a room was ready for him when-
ever he chose to occupy it. She also informed
him that I could have a room.
" Captain," I said, " I have no reason to get
away from you. Indeed, I wouldn't leave
your guardianship just now for a plantation.
The man who has accused me is in league with
others who are interested in getting me out of
the wa}^ Now if you'll permit me to go to
bed without a guard I'll give you my word of
honor not to leave this house till after the
watch has been resumed to-morrow."
" Now, captain," put in Jaqueline, before the
officer could reply, "let the poo' man go to
AN AMATEDR SOUBEETTE 69
" Fo' yo' sake ?" he asked, looking at her
with an expression half admiring, half comical.
" Fo' my sake, fo' 3^0' sake, fo' everybody's
She went up in front of him, and, putting
her little oval face within a few inches of his,
brought her snapping eyes to bear on him, and
stood waiting for liis decision.
" "Well, I reckon I must let yo' have yo' way.
Yo're too pretty to qua' el Avith."
She clapped her hands. " I knew it ! Love-
liest man I ever met ! Too sweet for any-
The captain smiled that pleasant, indolent
smile of his, looking at me at the same time, as
much as to sa}^, " What a deliciously odd
creature," while Jaqueline disappeared as sud-
denly as an actress who had finished her part.
Ginger came in with a decanter and glasses,
which he placed on the table. The captain
sat down before the wine and invited me to
" Miss Rutland is ce'tainly a dainty little
thing," he said, as "he took the stopper from
the decanter and filled our glasses.
" She certainly is."
" Most charming creature I ever saw."
70 SWEET KEVENGE
" What a soubrette she would make !"
" Ravishing-. Fill yo' glass, sir ; ravishing.
Do yo' know, I never saw mo' graceful danc-
in o^ on the stage ?"
" Nor I."
" And what a sweet little voice !"
" The notes of a bird."
By this time I had made up my mind that it
would be impossible to get the captain on any
other subject than Jaqueline, and he talked
of iier the rest of the evening — indeed, till he
had finished the decanter. I could not but be
amused at the transition Jaqueline had wrought
in his treatment of me. It occurred to me to
test his good-nature still further.
"Captain," I remarked, "I'm caught away
from home with a thin pocket-book ; could you
let me have a hundred dollars till I can get to
where there is a bank ?"
" Certainly, sir, with pleasure ; no trouble at
all," and, pulling out a thick roll of Confeder-
ate bills, he tossed them over to me.
" Captain," I said, pushing back the bills, " I
don't need money. I only wanted to see if it
were possible for a man to order another out
to be shot in the afternoon and do him a favor
in the evening.''
AN AMATEUR SOUBEETTE 71
" My dear sir," he replied, " permit me to
apologize for my hasty action. I give yo' the
word of a Geowgia gentleman, that had not
that delightful little creature interposed I
should now deeply regret the execution of my
" You mean my execution."
" Yo' very good health, sir, and that of the
The decanter was empty. Ginger, the ma-
jordorao, appeared, assisted the captain up-
stairs to one of the main chambers in the cen-
tre of the house, then conducted me through a
hall to a wing, and ushered me into the apart-
ment intended for me.
What faded splendor! All the furniture
was mahogany ; the bed, a huge four-poster,
canopied ; the bureau high and Avith brass
handles to its drawers ; the chairs straight-
backed ; from the centre of the ceilino^ huno^ a
chandelier of glass pendants. All this antique
magnificence was lighted by the single tallow
dip which also glistened upon the honest face
" I hope yo' berry corafolem, sah," said Gin-
ger, setting down the candle and turning to
"No doubt of it. Wait a bit; I want you
to tell me to whom this plantation belongs."
" Gunnel Rutland, sah."
"Been in this family long?"
" A thousand years, sah."
" Don't know nothen' 'bout counten' ; spec
it's been in de fanvly mighty long time. Gun-
nel Rutland, be inigbty fine genTman, sab.
Gunnel Rutland, be own ten bundred t'ousand
acres — ^"
" How many ?"
" De biggest plantation in all Alabama, sab.
Gunnel Rutland be de biggest — "
" Wait a bit. Ginger. "Wbo is Miss Pink-
"Missy Pinkley, sbe migbty fine lady, sab.
Missy Pinkley, sbe — "
" Wbat relation is sbe to Golonel Rutland ?"
'' Missy Pinkley, sbe war Missy Rutland's
sistab, sab. Missy Pinkley, sbe — "
" Wbere is Mrs. Rutland ?"
" Missy Rutland, she's daid."
" Who is Miss Jaqueline ?"
" Missy Jack, she's de fust 3'oung lady in de
Souf, sab. When Missy Jack go to de planters'
balls, and de city balls in Huntsville, she tak'
all de young men away from de udder young
ladies, an' mak' 'em all mad 'nuff to eat her up."
" Sbe is Golonel Rutland's daughter, I sup-
" Yes, sab. Missy Jack de apple ob Gunnel
Rutland's eye, sab. Gunnel Rutland don' care
nuffen 'bout nobody but Missy Jack."
74 SWEET REVENGE
" How about you colored people ?"
" What dat, sail V
" Do you like Miss Jaqueline ?"
" Like Missy Jack ! Reckon de culled peo-
ple do like Missy Jack. Culled people lub
Missy Jack like de angel ob — "
" Isn't she just a bit hot-tempered V
"Reckon Missy Jack is hot-tempered, sah.
Missy Jack, she got de hottest temper in de
whole Souf. Missy Jack, she — "
" Hold on ; explain why you all love Miss
Jack when she has a hot temper and speaks
to you so sharply."
" Laws-a-massy, she don' mean nuffen. Missy
Jack, she scol' wid de firebrand in de eye, but
she won' let nobody else scol', Yo' ought to
see dat gal when Mars'r Bingham — Mars'r
Bin^i^ham, he de oberseer — Mars'r Bingham
whip de niggers. One day Mars'r Bingham
he whip me. I yelled like a killed nigger.
Missy Jack, she run out wid her hair a-flying
and her eyes a-shinen', and she tak' de whip out
o' Mars'r Bingham's ban', an' — golly Moses !
— how she lay it on dat oberseer!"
"Did he take it kindly?"
"i7<3 couldn't do nuffen; ef he tech Missy
Jack, Gunnel Rutland shoot him. Gunnel Rut-
land, he got de biggest temper, 'cept Missy
Jack — ain't nobody got temper lak Missy
Jack in — "
" Any more Rutlands V
" No, sah. Ain't dat 'nuff — all dem mighty
fine people ?"
" Quite enough. Now you may go, Gin-
Ginger departed with a frown that I should
have called for more such people as the Rut-
lands, and somewhat disappointed, I fancied,
at not being able to impress me with the mag-
nitude of the family temper. I closed the
door behind him and locked it.
" John Branderstane," I said, looking at the
dim reflection of my body in one of the great
mirrors, "had it not been for that little girl
down-stairs your being would now be no more
real than that image.' Never have you had
so close a call, and you'll never have another
so close without it being the last. But you've
no time to waste. Your situation will be more
critical with the rising sun than it is this min-
ute. Something must be done."
I went to a window. It was at the end of
the building. My room was on the second
story of tlie house, at no great height from
76 SWEET REVENGE
the ground. I turned from the window to
another facing the rear ; they were all open,
for the weather was warm and sultr3^ At
this second window was something which at-
tracted my attention at once — a tree growing
so near that I could easily step into its
branches and descend to the ground.
"Thank Heaven, here is an avenue of es-
But my pledge.
It is questionable if those moral heroes
who prefer death to dishonor would choose
the former if the alternative were presented
as it was to me. Death in the form it awaited
me certainlv looked very ugly. If I kept my
word and remained till morning my identity
was sure to come out. If fortune enabled me
to conceal it, if the captain permitted me to
go my way, I was sure to fall into the hands
of my enemies. By leaving in the night I
could give both the slip, and by morning be
far away or so disguised that I should not be
recognized if found. I might possibly reach
the Union lines.
I had never before broken a pledge ; but I
had never before seen certain death starino-
me in the face. In the ordinary affairs of life,
I reasoned, one should have a high standard,
but in a matter of life or death— Besides,
who ever heard of one carrying information
in war stopping at a lie or the violation of a
Placing my foot on the sill, I was reaching
for a branch of the tree without when I sud-
denly stepped back into the room, sat down
in a chair, and buried ni}'' face in my hands.
A vision of Ethel Stanforth, sweet, gentle, in-
nocent, stood before me. As a flash of lio^ht-
ning will clear a murky atmosphere, my
human reasoning vanished before a divine in-
tuition. I could not break my pledge.
Then I fell to thinking. How difficult it
is, after all, to look into the future ; who
knows but some new outlet may occur to-
morrow ? This captain is a singular man, and
no one can tell what whim may seize him
next. To-day he ordered me out to be shot ;
to-morrow he may send me away from my
enemies with an escort to protect me. Then
there is little Jaqueline. She has slipped a
noose about his neck that he will not easily
shake off. She may find a hiding-place for me,
or an avenue which will eventually lead to safe-
ty. I Avas so pleased with the probabilities I
78 SWEET KEVENGE
conjured up that I got up and walked back
and forth, rubbing ray hands with satisfac-
Fool ! stupid human fool ! The events fate
had in store for me were nothing, as my fore-
sight had painted.
I heard a tramp of horses' hoofs coming
through the gatewa}''. Going to a front win-
dow and looking out, I saw two figures on
horseback. It was too dark for me to distin-
guish them ; though one was very small, the
other seemed to be a woman, for I could see
her garments fluttering. They came canter-
ing down the roadway to the gallery, and must
have dismounted, for soon I heard a knocking.
Leaving the chamber, I went through the hall
on tiptoe and stood at the head of the great
staircase, listening. There were voices below,
but I could not tell whose they were. I waited
some time for more information, but those
who were talking went into another part of
the house, and I was obliged to return to my
room unsatisfied. I sat down again and re-
newed my musings — musings that were not of
I had not sat long when two men passed
-tmder the window. They were talking in a
low tone. The voice of one was that of a
white man, the other that of a negro. The
negro said something which was inaudible;
then the white man asked :
Is not that Jaycox's voice ? It is ; there is
no mistaking that harsh growl. AVhat can it
mean ? Ah ! I see it all. He expects that I
will elude this easy-going captain, and he Avill
spread a net for the bird before it flies. Fort-
unate ! If I had descended by the tree I
should have dropped into his embrace.
My anxiety was now more intense than
ever. The cords were surel}^ drawing about
"Nonsense!" I said to mvself; "I'm losing;
my head. True, I'm in a tight place; but
tight places are interesting. Men who pos-
sess great presence of mind are best fitted to
escape great dangers. When the cards run
high the coolest wins. I propose to defeat
all these conv'^erging enemies by keeping my
head. I shall go to bed and get a good sleep.
Then on the moiTow I shall be in shape for the
My resolution, together with the fatigue of
80 SWEET KEVENGE
an eventful day, brought slumber sooner than
might have been expected. But I soon awoke,
and, having awakened, was wide awake. I sat
up in bed. I could look out of the window
into the tree which had invited me to descend
by its branches. I thought I saw a dark
object that did not belong there. The leaves
were not far enough advanced to conceal, nor
young enough to fully reveal any object hid-
den there. The night was not one of the
darkest, yet there was a little light — starlight,
and no moon.
" Imaginary terrors !" I muttered. " Go to
I lay down, drew the sheet up, tucked it in
at the back of my neck, and obeyed the com-
mand I had given myself by passing back into
I dreamed that I was standing under a great
glass receiver, and a man was working a pump
to exhaust the air. At every stroke I felt less
able to breathe, till at last I was suffocating.
I awoke, and was conscious of some one stuffing
a cloth into my mouth. I tried to cry out,
but could make no sound. Two men stood
beside me, one gagging me, while the other
began to tie my hands. This done, they
carried me, irapotently writhing, to the win-
" Bring them clothes, Pete," said one of the
men ; " he'll give us away without 'em."
It's Tom Jaycox ! I'm lost !
The man called Pete snatched my clothes
and threw them out on the ground below.
Then the two began the work of getting me
through the window. Jaycox, who had the
strength of an ox, seizing my Avrists, while the
man behind pushed. They got me out into
the limbs of the tree, where, if I continued to
struggle, I was in danger, bound hand and
foot as I was, of pounding the earth below. I
made a virtue of necessity and permitted them
to lower me. Once on the ground they hus-
tled me to a clump of trees back of the house,
where I was unbound, and, covered by the
muzzles of two revolvers, forced to put on my
clothes. Then they rebound my wrists and
ran me behind the barn, where two horses
stood ready saddled. Jaycox took me in his
steel arms and tossed me on to one of them
with as much ease as if I had been a bag of
meal. The two men mounted the other horses
and we started off, circling around back of the
negro huts and under trees to a side gate
82 SWEET REVENGE
opening on the pike. Once away from the
grounds we set off at a gallop.
Kidnapped ! Now I may save myself any
further worry. The inevitable is before me.
Before daylight I shall be a dead man.
ON THE PLATEAU
On, on we sped, under starlight, over stony
pike, steel-shod hoofs striking fire on flinty
stones, snake fences writhing, trees dancing in
a semicircle about those beyond. We dashed
over wooden bridges ; we splashed through
shallow streams ; we dipped into hollows and
tilted over crests, while now and again some
startled bird stretched its wings and went
whirring into the forest.
On my right rode Tom Jaycox, holding my
bridle-rein, his ugly face turned always towards
me. Every crime-moulded feature — his cold,
steel eye, his knitted, overhanging brows,
spoke one word: " Vengeance !" On the other
side galloped a man, long, lean, hungry, grind-
ing uneasily on a quid. I did not know his
name, but memory brought me a picture of
that same face lighted by shot-guns flashing
in the night.
84 SWEET REVENGE
Our breakneck speed lasted till we had put
some miles between us and the plantation,
then we slackened our pace and wallced our
panting horses till the}^ had partl}^ recovered
their wind, then struck a trot. It was imma-
terial to me at what gait we moved, I thought
only of my approaching end. Surely it could
not be far distant. Why did it not come
at once? A pistol-ball, a club — anything is
enough to take a life. Then I shuddered
as the thought struck me that I was to be
kept for a more lingering death.
We were passing between a range of hills
on our left and the Cumberland plateau on our
riofht when Javcox drew rein and we all came
to a halt. There was a sound of horses' hoofs
behind, coming at a brisk canter; but no soon-
er had we stopped than the sounds ceased.
Both the men listened until all was silent, then
Jay cox started on.
" All right, Pete," he said. " Whoever it is
has either stopped or left the road."
" Some un goen' home late, I reckon."
We proceeded on our way, but had gone
scarcely a quarter of a mile when we again
heard the hoof-beats in our rear. Again we
pulled up and listened.
ON THE PLATEAU 85
" By gosh, Tom," said Pete, "thet beats me!"
Both listened, waiting to hear the sounds
renewed, but as they were not we started on.
For the second time the hoof-beats recom-
menced, and this time a little nearer.
" We must git outen this," said Jaycox.
"Let's take to the hills here instead o' furder
Turning to the right Ave passed through tim-
ber, beginning a gradual ascent of the plateau.
Jaycox rode ahead, holding my bridle-rein,
while Pete followed, revolver in hand.
Who were on the road I knew no more than
my abductors, but as a drowning man will
catch at a straw I cast about for some method
of letting them know of our digression. Bend-
ing low in the saddle, I peered through the
gloom, watching for something with which to
produce sound, for my gag prevented my
shouting, and a shout would have brought
punishment. Coming upon a flat rock, by a
pressure of the knees I guided my horse over
it, but it was too firmly imbedded to be moved.
Soon after I encountered another, right on the
edge of the trail. Digging my heels into my
horse's flanks and throwing my body out of
86 SWEET KEVEXGE
equilibrium I forced him to prance. A vigor-
ous pull on my bridle-rein by Jaycox saved
him from going over the inchne, carrying me
with him. But I had accomplished my pur-
pose, I heard the stone go crashing down the
" You infernal dog," cried the man in the
rear, " ef yer do thet agin I'll run a knife
atwixt yer shoulders !"
" Ef he does 't agin yer needn't trouble yer-
self to stick him ; the fall ud finish him."
Higher, higher, we mounted, farther from
the dark plain below, upon which here and
there shone a lonely light ; nearer to the
patches of fleece in the heavens, and the stars
looking down from above. Then came a faint
light in the sky and a gray tinge over the
country below. Woods, streams, fields, houses,
barns, grew out of the darkness. The light
broadened, there were gilded clouds in the
east, the sun cast its first beams over the
heights and upon the landscape below. We
had reached the upper level ; w^e were on the
Espying a log-house ahead, the men consult-
ed, and determined to try for some breakfast.
They took the gag out of my mouth, and as
ON THE PLATEAU
soon as I was free to speak, anxious to be at
once put beyond suffering and the terrible sus-
pense of an impending murder, I cried :
"You dogs! you cowards! vou're ffoino^
to kill me ! ^^^hy do you delay ?"
They looked at each other knowingly and
grinned — a horrible, soulless grin,
" D' y' reckon yer goen' to git ter heaven
without payen' fo' th' damage y' done?''
snarled Jaycox, with an ugly light in his eye.
"Ah, that's your game !"
" We know you uns ter be as well fixed fo'
property as any young man in Tennessee. An'
we're goen' to hev a slice too. But yer needn't
reckon thet's goen' ter save y'. Yer got ter
shell out, 'n then — " His look told the rest.
" Give me one shot with mv back against a
tree, and I'll fight two such cowards as you."
" Shet up !" snapped Jaycox, showing his
teeth within a foot of my face, and with a
glance like that of an angry bulldog. Then,
riding up to the entrance of the hut, he shout-
" Hello thar !"
An old woman came to the door with an
iron spoon in her hand.
" Wall, what's wanted ?"
88 SWEET REVENGE
"Hain't got nothen' but pone."
" Got any cofiFee ?"
"Coffee? D' y' reckon Abe Lincoln's goen'
ter let us hev coffee away up in these moun-
tings, when they hain't got none down in th'
towns? I got a yarb '11 do purty wal,
My captors dismounted, breakfasted, then
arranged for a short nap, one watching Avhile
the other slept. Jaycox first sprawled him-
self on the ground, and was asleep in a twink-
ling, while his comrade sat staring at me with,
his gun ready cocked. I knew that if I made
the slightest movement with a view to escape
he would shoot me. Occasionally he looked
impatiently at a handsome gold watch — doubt-
less taken in spoil — as if anxious for the expi-
ration of his hour of duty. Towards the last
he nodded. I was near some low bushes and
began to roll towards them. He awoke w4th
a start, and, quick as a flash, brought his gun
to his shoulder.
" Yo' hound !"
Jaycox opened his eyes, and, seeing a mur-
derous look in his companion's face, and a gun
right over his foot pointed at me, kicked the
ON THE PLATEAU 89
weapon upward, discharging it, thus doubt-
less for the time saving ray life.
This finished the first watch, and Ja3"cox
took his turn, admonishing me that if I tried
the experiment again he would tie me up by
the thumbs. I dreaded this torture, and gave
him no cause to enforce it ; besides, he kept
awake during his entire watch.
The men having secured the needed rest, we
broke our bivouac, Ja3xox loosened the horses,
and his companion kept me covered with his
gun while I mounted. xVs I put my foot in the
stirrup I happened to glance aside and saw
two horsemen approaching. In a moment I
recoo:nized Buck Stanforth and Ginger. Ilow
they came to be there was a mystery. I only
knew they were there, and rejoiced. At seeing
me Buck was about to give a shout, when he
bethought himself that such a proceeding
might be fatal, and regained his composure
just as his presence was discovered. Ginger
showed no signs of recognition whatever. I
shot a quick glance at Jaycox, to see if he rec-
oirnized the negro. To mv relief he did not
appear to know either Buck or Ginger.
" Say, yo' men," called Back, " can we get
somepin to eat hyar ?*'
90 SWEET EEVENGE
" Ef thar's any vittels left," said Jaycox,
" What you uns doen' out this time o' day V
" Oh," said Buck — I trembled lest his wits
should desert him at a critical moment — " I'm
taken' this nigger to his new master. He's
" Yer a peart 'un ter deliver a nigger ; reck-
on he don't mind goen' witli yer."
Buck and Ginger dismounted as we depart-
ed, I was obliged to part with them without
being: able to utter a word or make a sign.
Still their presence gave me hope. Hope !
What could a simple negro and a boy do to
rescue me from two stalwart brutes who were
watching me like cats?
All day we moved northward, the men rid-
ing close beside me, now and again turning
their ugly faces towards me with a grin of
satisfaction, or a scowl when I did or said
anything to displease them, often bending
close to me, sickening me with their rank to-
bacco-smelling: breaths or the worse odor of
their unwashed bodies. We met no one. The
only comfort I derived was from the natural
objects of the mountains. A red fox stole
away under cover, a chipmunk, fearless and
free, sat on a log, looking at us curiously as
ON THE PLATEAU 91
we passed. A budding wild rose brushed
ray boot ; it was like the kiss of a loving
companion. Even the twittering birds seemed
to be offering sympathy.
Towards evening, as the sun stood just
above the horizon, a dull red ball, a shad-
ow resting on the lower landscape, one of
my captors gave a whoop. It Avas answered
by a man ahead, and in a moment a dozen
more started from about a camp-fire.
" Got him ?" yelled the foremost of the
" Yo' bet !"'
With a cheer every man sprang for his gun.
" Hold on thar !" roared Jaycox, with his
bull's voice. " Don't yer be fo'gettin' we're
goen' ter be paid fo' our losses fust."
A man b}'^ no means as repulsive as the rest,
slenderly built, with a wxak mouth, long,
black hair, and a beard through which shone
a tinge of color on his cheek, stepped to
the front as with authority, and it was soon
evident that he w\as in command. He in-
quired about certain of the gang who were
lurking about Huntsville. Jaycox mentioned
the name " Ike," though I could not hear what
he said, w^iereupon the captain turned and
92 SWEET REVENGE
glanced at me. I inferred that Ike was the
man who had tried to kill me, and whom I
had killed for his pains. Then the captain
and Jaycox went into a thicket near by, evi-
dently for consultation, and were followed by
the others, while I remained behind, still sit-
ting on my horse, and watched by Pete, who
stood on the ground, a great gaunt figure, one
hand holding the bridle-rein of his horse as
he nipped the grass, the other grasping a
cocked revolver. He was looking at me from
under his faded sombrero, his eyes peering
into mine malignantly, his jaws grinding on
his quid, the juice of which soiled the corners
of his mouth. I could not endure to look at
him, and turned towards the landscape below.
The sun had set ; it was the beginning of
night. Was it not the beginning for me of
the eternal night?
It was plain to me that I was in the hands
of that terrible war-time scourge of the South,
the guerrilla. This band had been made up
in East Tennessee, and had moved out of their
original stamping-ground to get away from
their old homes, and find a better field for
pillage. From the Cumberland plateau they
could swoop down towards Xashville, Mur-
freesborough, McMinnville, Shelbyville, Fay-
ette, or Huntsville, and, if chased, could easily
take to the mountains, where it was difficult
to follow them. On one of their forays Tom
Jaycox and Pete Halliday had got wind of
my whereabouts, and, with several of the gang,
including the man I had shot, had gone down
to look after rae. The country in and about
Huntsville was too civilized for open assassi-
nation, and Jaycox, after the failure of the
attempt on my life, had procured my arrest
94 SWEET REVENGE
as a spy. Then followed the plan to kidnap
me and force me into a pa^'^ment of money
before the final revenge.
We bivouacked where we had met the band
on the plateau, under the trees that waved
above us, their sprouting leaves lighted up by
our camp-fire. I lay awake the greater part
of the night, watching for an opportunity to
escape, but one sentry after another was placed
over me, and morning came without my hav-
ing made the attempt.
At sunrise we moved northward as on the
day before, my captors still keeping a strict
watch over me. During the day Ja3'^cox
pushed on in advance ; why, 1 did not know,
but surmised that his going had something to
do with the plan to plunder me.
The mountains seemed deserted. Not a
human being did we see save two women
and a negro, all on horseback, travelling in
the same direction as ourselves. I caught
several glimpses of them, though always at
a distance, and wondered how it was that
" poor white trash," to which class they ap-
peared to belong, could afford the attendance
of a slave.
When we halted for the night, which we
did about five o'clock in the afternoon, the
captain came up to me and told me they were
going to take me to a point near my old home,
Knoxville, where I would be required to sign
a check for a large amount — all they could
squeeze out of me ; but if there were not suffi-
cient funds to my credit in the bank, I must
execute papers that would enable him to con-
vert property into money. If I would do as
he wished he would set me free. This I knew"
to be a lie ; the gang would find a pretext to
murder me whether I signed the document or
He left me sitting on the ground, leaning
against a log, contemplating the horrors of my
situation. If I did not pay my ransom I
should be murdered ; if I paid it I should be
murdered ; it was Hobson's choice. I made
up my mind that I would attempt to escape,
get shot, and thus end a situation that was in-
flicting on me a mental torture far greater
than any physical pain mortal ever endured.
Casting my eyes inadvertently towards the
road, I saw two women passing northward,
and in another moment recognized them as
those I had noticed on the march. To my sur-
prise, one of them turned and rode towards us ;
96 SWEET REV^ENGE
the other hesitated, started on, turned, and
followed her companion. I noticed something
familiar about their figures. The coarse text- '
ure of their jackets and gowns, and their un-
becoming sunbonnets were out of keeping
with their graceful carriage. " If these women
knew," I thought, "that they w^ere entering a
guerrilla camp they would be stricken with
terror.'' When they reached a point a dozen
yards distant they paused, the one in advance
calling, in a harsh voice :
" Can you uns tell us how fa' 'tis t' Tracy ?"
Then, beneath the homely check bonnet,
through the olive darkening of her complex-
ion, under the cheap calico, I recognized
Helen Stanforth. Her quadroon companion
was none other than my fascinating little
friend who had saved rae from the impetuous
wrath of Captain Beaumont — Jaqueline Rut-
Had a pair of angels come down from
heaven and lit on my shoulders I could not
have been more astonished. I rubbed my
eyes, thinking that my vision deceived me ; but
when I looked again there was Helen sittino:
on her horse, chatting with the guerrillas as if
they were ordinary persons, making common-
place remarks in excellent dialect, with which
a lonof residence near the mountains had made
her familiar. Jaqueline remained a short
distance behind her. For a while I feared
that Jaqueline would betray them both,
for I could see that she was trembling. But
presently all terror seemed to leave her. She
rode up beside Helen and began to chaff the
men, at once attracting the attention of the
" Yo're a likely gal," said one of them. " Git
down offen that critter and stay awhile."
" Couldn't think on 't."
" Oh yes, y' kin." And he walked up and
took hold of her bridle-rein.
"Yo' Jim Canfield," cried the captain, "let
that gyrl alone !"
The captain advanced and invited the two
visitors to alight, promising that they should
be respected. Jaqueline gave him a grateful
look as he helped her off her horse with far
more gallantry than might have been expected
from the leader of this gang of ruffians. In-
deed, there was something in his bearing to
make me suspect that this bandit captain —
Ringold they called him, though I suspect the
name was assumed — was an unworthy mem-
98 SWEET REVENGE
ber of some good Southern f;unil3^ who had
disgraced himself Avith his peers and become a
leader of those w^ho were, hke himself, devoid
of principle, but in other ways his inferiors.
Jaqueline must have divined as much, for no
sooner was she on terra firma than she slipped
her arm through his and clung to him confid-
ingly. Pete Halliday, who seemed to be the
next member of the band in importance after
the captain, awkwardly attempted to gain
some mark of her favor, but Jaqueline, with
woman's quick intuition, knew that if any one
was to be relied on it Avas Ringold, and de-
clined attention from any other.
" Who ar' yo' ? Whar did yo' come from ?
What yo' doen' hyar?" she asked, in her usual
quick way. " Hain't yo' goen' t' join our boys
'n' fight fo' th' ' Bonny Blue Flag'f
The captain looked a bit uncomfortable, and,
as she had asked several questions to which a
reply w^ould be in order, he replied to none.
"Can't yo' sing the 'Bonny Blue Flag' fo'
'em, Jack ?" asked Helen. " Reckon yo'd like
ter hear her," she added to the group ; " she's
right smart at singen'."
"Reckon," said Jack. "D' y' want ter
hear 't ?"
The men were too stupid, or, rather, had not
the politeness, to say they did. They stood and
gaped. Jack, who I could easily see, under
her enforced gayety, was badly frightened,
made a desperate effort and began to sing, but
her voice was so thin and trembling that I
thought every moment slie would break down.
However, when she came to the last stanza she
had regained something of confidence, and.
ended the song pretty well.
She had scarcely finished when we heard a
picking of banjo strings. I looked up and saw
a boy and a negro advancing towards us. I
was not long in recognizing Buck and Ginger,
the latter thrumming the instrument as he
"AVhars a house fo' t' git supper?" called
" Dunno ; hunt yer own supper," replied one
of the men.
" Hain't you uns got nothen' thar V spar' ?"
" Reckon ; but we hain't goen' ter spar' 't."
Buck started towards the camp, and Ginger
" I'm a-taken'this nigger t' Spart}^; he's sold."
" Hain't y' got that nigger off en yo' hands
yit ?" called Pete Halliday.
100 SWEET REVENGE
Buck looked at the speaker in assumed sur-
prise. " Wal, now, you uns mus' be tli' men we
met yistid'y Hain't yo' got yo' man offen yo'
iiands yit ?"
A grin passed over the faces of the men.
"Don't yer mind 'bout that man," replied
Pete Halliday, " er yer'll git inter trouble."
"Whar does the nigger b'long?" asked the
" I'm taken' him ter Sparty."
" Y' don't keep him under close watch," said
" Oh, he hain't no runaway nigger. He's
got me in charge 's much 's I got him. He's
b'longed to the fambly since befo' I was
By this time the travellers had reached the
camp. Buck's intelligent face contrasting with
the stupid look which the negro was assum-
The man who cooked for the band was
busying himself preparing supper. With one
accord the two girls took hold to help him.
He at once dropped his implements and gave
way, while all stood gaping at the unusual
sight of two women who, unasked, were cook-
ing a meal for them. Helen occupied herself
over the fire and managed an iron sicillet— the
only coolcing utensil in camp — as dexterously
as a chef. Jack took the tin dishes that com-
posed the kit and "set the table," an act hith-
erto unknown at guerrilla meals. Then, when
supper Avas read}-^, they insisted upon waiting
on the men. No one objected to this save the
captain, who, by his protest, a second time in-
dicated that he had seen better days and knew
something of deference to women.
The meal ended, the girls insisted on wash-
ing the dishes. When there was no more
work to do. Jack sang out :
" Clar th' way, you uus, 'n I'll give yo' a
A DANCE FOR A LIFE
The proposition was received with shouts
" Yo' don't mean yo' kin dance ?"
" Good gal ! Clar th' way fo' a dance !"
" Yo' nigger, tune that banjo ! 'T's lucky
fo' yo' y' got 't, strings 'n' all, er we'd 'a' made
strings outen yer hide."
The camp was on a circular piece of hard
ground so cut off from tlie sun by surrounding
trees and bushes that no grass grew. The few
scattered sprouts were soon cleared away ;
Ginger sat down on the log which lay near
by, twanged his banjo, tightening or loosening
a string, and then gave a preliminary flourish.
Jaqueline took off her sunbonnet, threw it
a few feet away, and stepped on to the clear-
ing. There was mingled fear and defiance in
her face that set mv heart to fluttering.
A DANCE FOR A LIFE 103
Though I did not know she was carrying- out
a jDreconcerted plan, somehow it got into my
head that she was about to dance for my hberty
— in other Avords, for my life. The thought
maddened me. An impulse seized me to throw
off the mask and defy the whole band. Helen,
seeing the desperate resolve expressed in my
face, gave me a look, partly imploring, partl}^
commanding, that recalled me to a sense of
Jaqueline began sailing about, keeping
time to Ginger's music, moving hither and
thither with uncertain steps, as a bird will flit
back and forth before darting away in its
flight, or as a musician will sweep his fingers
over a harp before beginning his melody.
Gradually the music grew quicker, and Jack,
gathering confidence, forgot everything but
Since the entry of the two girls into the
camp I had suffered one terror after another
in quick succession, and now it struck me
that in case Jack succeeded in fascinating this
lawless group, some of them, fired with a desire
of possession, would break through all restraint.
I had been wonder-struck that two defence-
less mrls should dare to come anions' them.
104 SWEET EEVENGE
and now I was stupefied that Jack should
dance before them and that Helen should per-
mit her to do so. But who shall measure the
strength of woman's Aveakness? Mother Nat-
ure had taught Jack and Helen their power,
and they went about their work with not a
tithe of the fright that possessed me.
Meanwhile Jaqueline had drifted into the
dance, and was whirling, bending, floating, ev-
ery muscle alive Avith its especial motion. At
times she would lull, poise herself for a mo-
ment, then, like a fitful wind, start again with
renewed fervor. At no time could there be
discovered aught but delicate refinement in
her movements, and now it Avas her pur-
pose to attract Avithout exciting her specta-
tors. Stimulated by frequent bursts of ap-
plause and by the rapt attention of the men
surrounding her, she found her main in-
centive in a far deeper, nobler motive — feeling,
as she did, the critical situation, the dread re-
sponsibility for a human life resting upon
"What a singular scene? The ring of ugly
faces momentarily softened by the sight of
grace and beauty ; the captain, his sharp
face turninir with the dancer and following
A DANCE FOK A LIFE 105
her wherever she goes ; Pete Halliday, stand-
ing with folded arms, lowering from under the
broad brim of his sombrero, grinding his quid ;
Ginger's black face gleaming with pride at
furnishing the music for his young mistress,
inspiring her with his own inspired melody;
little Buck, standing between two lank guer-
rillas in " butternut," staring at his cousin,
and forgetful of her danger in his interest in
her work ; Helen Stanforth, standing apart, her
strong face wearing the expression of a general
who watches a cavalry charge intended to turn
a position on which hangs the fate of the day.
The guerrillas, not one of whom would hes-
itate to slit a throat at the slightest prospect
of gain, were watching the little soubrette,
not only with admiration but with respect.
Once during her performance one of the men
applauded with a ribald remark. He was
standing by the captain, who stretched his
arm, brought it down with a backward stroke,
and sent the man sprawling. Jaqueline saw
the act and the approving looks of the out-
laws, who Avere in no mood to have their
sport interrupted. The color left her cheeks,
but she kept right on, and the episode passed
without farther consequences.
106 SWEET REVENGE
At a moment when the attention of the
men had become riveted upon the dancer,
Plelen, who had been gradually working her
way from the group towards me, came and
sat down on the log behind Ginger, Avhere she
was partially screened by him. Watching her
opportunity, she deftly took a revolver from
her pocket and concealed it in the folds of
her dress. With her eyes fixed upon the
group about Jack, she waited for a burst of
applause, and Avhen it came, reaching back
she dropped the weapon behind the log at my
feet ; then, rising, rejoined the circle. I pushed
the revolver under the log with the toe of my
boot, then kicked dust and leaves over it.
This accomplished, I breathed the most com-
fortable sigh of relief I have ever drawn in
my life. The whole situation seemed changed
by that little dust-covered combination of bits
of metal. Stooping, I shpped it into the leg
of my boot, and felt that half the battle was
At that moment the setting sun came out
from behind a cloud and shot lances of light
through the trees, covering the group — the
beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad,
the refined and the vulgar — with gilded splen-
A DANCE FOR A LIFE 107
dor. I saw but Jaqueline. The usual fitful-
ness of lier disposition, her natural expression
of careless indifference, had given place to a se-
rious intensity denoting a great purpose. Pois-
ing herself between two movements, the gild-
ing rays shone on her forehead. Then dart-
ing on her toes to another part of the ring, a
quick succession of lights and shades passed
over her brow — a glittering- diadem of sun-
flashes. Truly God is a wonderful artist, since
He can touch even a dance Avitli celestial pu-
Helen Stanforth turned to me. PulIinfT' her
sunbonnet forward so as to conceal her face
from the others — though the}'" were too intent
on Jaqueline to notice her — she moved her
lips, and though no sound came I knew she
intended the word :
ISTear me was a tree ; not far from that
another ; underbrush, bushes — just the cover
through which to make a retreat. I could
easily get down behind the log,^ crawl into the
thicket, and awa3\ Now for the first time the
purpose of dear little Jaqueline was full}^ ap-
But how could I leave these friends who bad
108 SWEET REVENGE
risked so much, accomplished so much, for me ?
I stood still and shook my head.
Ao:ain Helen looked an order for me to ofo.
" I^ot without the others," I whispered.
Sittino: down on the log- so as to be nearer
to me, she replied, in a low voice :
"We will leave here when you are safely
away. She will dance on to keep them from
knowing you have gone. We have planned
" They will know you connived at ray escape
and murder you."
"Why should they? Go at once, or I shall
consider you an ingrate."
She looked so anxious, they had all made
such a noble eifort in my behalf, that I could
not find it in my heart to disappoint them.
I slipped behind the tree, dropped to the
ground, and wriggled like a snake through the
underbrush ; then, rising, darted away.
A dozen yards — fifty — a hundred. The
music of Ginger's banjo dies as suddenly as the
clang of a bell on a passing engine. Will one
minute or five pass before I am missed ? A
distant burst of applause — God bless the dear
little dancer ! Before me is an open space, then
a dense clump of trees. If I can reach that
A DANCPJ FOR A LIFE 109
thicket I can make a quick digression, and this
ma}^ throw my pursuers off my track.
A confusion of yells — a bullet whistling by
my ear. I reach the wood and push on through
it, not daring to lose distance by digression
with an enemy close behind me. My feet
becoming' entanoled in a vine, I stumble and
fall. A weight comes down on me, crushing
the breath out of me. It is all over.
Panting, bleeding, white as a ghost, I am
led back to the guerrilla camp.
" Shoot him !"
" Gimme a rope oifen that pack-mule!"
" Tie him on a critter *n' send him down the
A babel of brutal suggestions came from the
different members of the band, sounding to
me, stunned as I was, like final random shots
at the slaughter of a " forlorn hope." Amid
the clamor I saw but one sight — Helen and
Jack locked in each other's arms, paraWzed
"Stand back, men!" cried the captain, push-
ing his way towards me. " Have y' forgot the
" Stand back !" roared Halliday. " He be-
longs to me 'n' Tom Jaycox. We tuk him."
.110 SWEET REVENGE
The captain's authorit}', thus supported,
saved me from immediate death. The men
who were crowding around me gave way, a
cord was brought, and my wrists and ankles
were securely bound. No one seemed to sus-
pect that Jack's dance had anything to do with
my flight, except that I had taken advantage
of the relaxed vigilance to make the attempt.
Having tied me, the}^ threw me to the ground,
Halliday giving me a parting kick ; a man Avas
deputed to watch me, and the band, accus-
tomed to such episodes, left me, to turn again
to what was far more interesting to them.
STEALING THE GTJNS
Jaquelixe once more became an object
of undivided interest. The men crowded
about her, staring at her, uttering exclama-
tions of admiration, vainly seeking a way
to do her honor. Presently they cut sap-
linffs, out of which thev constructed a rude
chair, decorating it with twigs, and one ill-
favored bandit, to whom nature had impart-
ed a spark of art, gathered Avild flowers with
which to put on finishing touches. When the
seat was completed, the men looked awkward-
ly at Jack, and the captain, presenting the
tips of his fingers, led her to her improvised
throne. Helen, Avho at the first sign that I
was to be temporarily spared had recovered
her equanimit}" and had infused some of her
restored courage into Jack, saw at once the
advantage of keeping up her cousin's popu-
larity. Seizing some of the flowers, she Avove
112 SWEET KEVENGE
them on a framework of green twigs into a
circular garland, and insisted on crowning the
favorite — not Queen of May, for Ma}^ had not
yet come, but queen of a month far more ap-
propriate — April.
Bv this time night had come on, a roarino;
fire was lighted, and the guerrillas, forming a
ring of which Jack was the gem, threw them-
selves on the ground and listened to her chat,
her songs, her stories, their lirelighted faces
standing out of the gloom in grim contrast
with her refined beauty. The captain, with
his superior breeding, served as a link between
her and his men, keeping them in check and
stimulating their admiration by his own. If
Jack flagged for a moment between her stories
and her songs Helen was quick to suggest new
ones, and occasionally both were relieved by
little Buck, who Avould throw in some quaint
remark typical of that peculiar creature — the
So long as the songs and stories lasted there
was nothing to precipitate trouble, but the en-
tertainment could not go on all night, and I
began to dread the moment when the girls
should attempt to take their departure. Pres-
ently Helen, in a firm voice, said :
STEALING THE GUNS 113
" Come, it's time for us to go.''
Shouts of "No!" "A dance!" "A song!"
greeted the proposition, and the guerrillas be-
gan to form in groups to resist an exit. Helen,
selecting the noisiest knot of men, drew a revol-
ver from her pocket, and, cocking it, moved
towards them with her eyes fixed upon them,
calm and stead\^ Whether it Avas that they
were cowed by the weapon, or admired this
evidence of woman's pluck, they opened a way.
The captain, seizing the opportunity, quick-
ly took Jack by the hand and led her after
her cousin. Once beyond the ring, he as-
sisted the girls to mount, then, mounting
himself, the three rode away, followed by a
cheer. As for me, I breathed one long sigh
" "Well, Ginger," said Buck, " reckon ef we
uns 're gocn' to git to Sparty to-morrer we'll
have to travel all night."
" Is th' nigger taken' you to Sparty or air
you taken' the nigger?" asked one of the men.
" Dat ain't gwine to mak' no differ," said
Ginger. " Mars' Buck 'n' 1 don' never hab no
trouble. Mars' Buck, he's my mars' till I gits
to de new one."
Buck led his horse to the log and mounted,
114 SWEET KEVENGE
giving me a significant look, as much as to say,
" I won't desert you," then rode away, follow-
ed by Ginger, with the remark :
" Good-bye, yo' fellers; much 'bliged fo' the
The restraint of the girls' presence being no
longer felt, the men's behavior changed in a
twinkling. The captain's absence left Pete
Halliday — the worst man in the gang — free
to foment trouble, and he began to do so by
sneering at his chief for being brought, as
he expressed it, under petticoat government.
There appeared to be two factions in the band
— the one headed b}^ Halliday or Jaycox, the
other by Captain Ringold. Halliday set
about instigating the guerrillas, or, rather, his
adherents, to go after Helen and Jack, and
brinir them back for another dance. To make
matters worse, one of the men found some ap-
ple-jack, and it was not long before the gang
w^ere half drunk. Meanwhile the captain re-
turned, and received a hearty cursing from
Halliday and his adherents. Several of them
started to bring back the girls, but Ringold
drew upon them and threatened to shoot them
unless they returned. They staggered back,
grumbling, and the captain adroitly proposed
STEALING THE GUNS 115
another pull at the apple-jack. This di-
verted them, and, after finishing the liquor,
one after another sank into a drunken slum-
It. was midnight. Every member of the
band was asleep, save the man who was de-
puted to guard me. He was sitting on a piece
of fire-wood, so placed that he could watch me
across the flame. I lay on my back looking
up at the stars and feather-like clouds that
now and again floated across the great blue
dome, — the only motion apparent, save the
tree-tops bending under an occasional breeze.
The fire flickered, the guard nodded, an owl
in the distance gave an occasional hoot.
I heard something stir in the underbrush.
Glancino: aside, I saw a small light disk over
a bush. It was the face of little Buck.
Now, in the name of all the gods, will those
devoted friends never oive over riskin"' tlieir
lives in these useless attempts i What is to
happen now ? I scowled an order to the boy
to go away, but he paid no attention to it.
Somethina: came slidins' alouii- the o^round and
lodged against me. The guard heard it, start-
ed, cast a quick glance at me, then about him,
but, seeing nothing, relapsed into his former
116 SWEET REVENGE
quietude. I felt for what had struck me, and
clasped a jack-knife.
Meanwhile Buck disappeared, but, soon ap-
pearing again in his place, held up a carbine.
He had doubtless stolen it from one of the men
who slept on the edge of the circle about the
lire. Again he disappeared, and I watched
eagerly for his return. The guard was still
awake, though nodding, but had he been more
watchful he would not likely have discovered
Buck, for the underbrush, both where the boy
appeared to me and where it skirted the sleep-
ing guerrillas, was so thick that in passing
around the camp he was coraparativ^ely safe
from observation. Besides, for most of the
distance Buck traversed in his gun foray the
guard's back was towards him.
I Avatch the point where Buck's head ap-
peared, expecting to see it again, but in its
stead presently see two white points. Strain-
ing my eyes, 1 discern the whites of two e3'es,
then a black face.
It is Ginger.
A white hne appears directly below the
e3'es, and I know Ginger is showing his teeth
in a smile. He raises his arm, and, behold !
another gun. Again a white line of teeth.
STEALING THE GUNS 117
and he puts the weapon down. Five, ten, fif-
teen minutes elapse. Ginger holds his ground.
Has he gone to sleep? No. Another five
minutes, and he holds np another gun. Ah, I
see ;' little Buck, with cat-like tread, is gath-
ering^ in the arms. That's well ; he is far bet-
ter fitted for such delicate work than a stiff
This little pantomime begins to take shape
in my mind, and brings anticipations of more
than a fight for my own life. If I can escape,
and Buck and Ginger secure sufficient arms,
it may be possible for all our party to get
together and make a defence. I must tell
Ginger to get some ammunition. But with a
guard looking straight at me it is no easy
task to convey an order by signs, and that to
a stupid negro. Catching sight of a small
stone beside me, 1 put out my hand, yawning
to conceal my intention, let it fall on the
stone, and soon have it between the knuckle
of my thumb and the point of my forefin-
ger, as a boy holds a marble. AYatching till
the guard's head is turned, looking meaningly
at Ginger, I fire the stone a short distance,
hoping he will understand the word " ammu-
nition." His face is a blank ; it is evident
118 SWEET RliVENGE
that he does not know what I mean, and there
is no prospect of his getting it through his
Ginger turned away, and I knew that he
was speaking to his young master ; then
Buck's white face showed itself inquiringly
behind the negro's black one. I looked mean-
ingly at Buck, and repeated tiie motion of fir-
ing. He caught my meaning, and, taking up a
gun, made a motion as if ramming a cartridge,
looking at me inquiringly. I indicated that he
was right. He went awa\% and after a long
absence came back and held up four cartridge-
boxes, two in each hand. Then, putting down
the boxes, he held up three fingers, and I knew
that they had secured three guns. He next
held up four fingers of the other hand, point-
ing to the sleeping guerrillas, and I knew he
proposed to get one more gun.
Buck was a long while capturing the fourth
gun. One of the men awoke, j'^awned, sat up,
and looked into the fire ; yawned again, lay
down, and was soon snoring. Then the guard
got up from where he was sitting. There was
a slight sound in the bushes, and he listened
attentively. Then he put some wood on the
tire and sat down again. He had scarcely
STEALING THE GUNS 119
seated himself before Ginger held up the
I moved slightl}^, showing ray friends by
my manner that I was about to try to get
away. They appeared to understand and
gathered up the guns, Buck taking one and
Ginger three, doing all so silently that no
sound reached even me. I waited, watchino-
the guard intently till he should nod. I had
no expectation of his going to sleep ; I only
hoped to free myself from my thongs be-
fore he would discover my movement. He
nodded ; I moved ; he opened his eyes ; I
snored ; he nodded again ; I grasped the knife.
Thoughtful Buck ! he had opened the blade.
Drawing up my knees I cut the ropes that
bound my ankles, then felt in my boot-leg for
the revolver. I was about to cock it when I
remembered that the guard would hear the
click. I thought I would conceal the sound
by a sneeze, but a sneeze might disturb some
of the band. The owl, which had for some
time been silent, hooted. It usually gave
three hoots in succession. I counted — one, two,
and at the third cocked mv revolver. Throuo-h
my half-closed lids I cast a glance at the guard.
His eyes were shut. I looked significantly at
120 SWEET REVENGE
Buck and Ginger to show them that I was
ready, then motioned them to go. Waiting
long enough for them to put a few hundred
yards between them and tlie camp, and no-
ticing that the guard's eyes were still shut, I
prepared to follow.
Rising slowly and silently, keeping my eyes
fixed on the man by the fire, raising my re-
volver, and taking as good an aim as possible
witli bound wrists, I stood on my feet. One
step backward; then another; a third, a fourth,
a fifth, a sixth. I had reached the bushes
where Buck and Ginger had been concealed,
and was about to take one more step which
would secure concealment when the guard
opened his eyes and looked straight at me.
Surprise Avas his last emotion, my figure
the last sight he ever saw. I shot him through
the head, and before the report had ceased to
reverberate was in the bushes.
A DAYLIGHT ATTACK
Despite the thickness of the surrounding
underbrush, I made quick progress. Jumping
clean over bushes, darting around trees and
under low limbs, after running some two hun-
dred yards from the guerrilla camp I came to
a comparatively open space. Seeing a figure
standins: within it, and surmisino: it to be one
of my friends, I was about to call, when a
woman's voice cried "Halt!" I knew that I
Avas covei'ed by a weapon, and stopped short.
"Are you — "
" Yes ; and you ?"
" Helen. This way."
She darted away like a deer. I soon over-
took her, and together we ran perhaps half a
mile, when she began to climb an ascent lead-
ing to the base of an overhanf!:ino- cliff. I saw
through the gloom a large and a small figure
climbing just ahead of us, and knew they were
122 SWEET REVENGE
Ginger and Buck. Helen led the way up to a
recess in the cliff, and I saw at once a position
that we could hold against a dozen men so
long as we had food and ammunition.
" Hello !" It was Jack's cheery voice.
" Goody ! Ain't I glad to get out o' the wil-
" 7'm glad enough," I said, as soon as I could
get breath to speak; "but you women — "
There was no time for words. We set about
rolling a big stone into a gap between two
others, and as soon as it was in position had a
continuous breastwork. The guerrillas were
callino- to each other in the woods below, but
they did not seem to know where we were. I
picked up one of the guns Ginger had thrown
down. Buck had one in his hands, Ginger kept
one, and Helen seized the remaining one.
"Where do /come in?" chirped Jack.
"Here." I handed her the revolver, in which
there were five loaded chambers, and told her
to hold on to it, as she would doubtless need
it. We all took position beliind our breast-
works ready to ropel an assault, at the same
time seeing to the condition of our pieces.
They were cavalry carbines, all loaded and
capped ready for use.
A DAYLIGHT ATTACK 123
" Where are your horses ?" I asked.
" Picketed down there," Helen repHed, point-
ing westward, " in a thicket not far from the
" Have you anything to eat ?"
She glanced at a parcel on the ground. " I
got that in a cabin. There's some corn-pone
"Barely enough for one meal. Any
"There's some water trickling between the
rocks back there."
" That pone and pork means a chance, but
it's a slim one."
Helen set her lips ; Jack turned pale; Ginger
showed no emotion whatever; while Buck re-
marked that he'd be " darned if he didn't plunk
one of 'em, anyway." As for m3'self, I was
aghast at the terrible fate that threatened
those who had so nobl}' and so bravely risked
all in my behalf.
" What brought you here ?" I asked, impa-
tiently, of Helen.
" When 3'ou were taken from our house I
resolved to follow. Buck came in just as I
started, and insisted on joining me. We traced
you to Colonel Rutland's plantation — "
124 SWEET REVENGE
" I see ; it was you I heard coming in after
I went iip-stairs."
" Ginger took the horses to the stable, and
was returning to the house when he saw two
men chmb a tree near your window and enter
your room. He watched from a distance and
saw them bring you out, but lie could not tell
whether they were taking you away by force
or assisting you to escape. Coming into tlie
house, he told us what had happened.
"Jack started to awaken Captain Beaumont,
but I stopped her. If you had been assisted
to escape this would be fatal ; besides, from
what Jack had told me of the captain, I judged
he would have his night's rest before starting
in pursuit. I told Jack I would follow you
myself, and she was wild to come Avith me.
Ginger had seen you leave the plantation, and
knew the direction you had taken. We sent
him and Buck ahead, and they soon came near
enough to you to hear your horses' hoof -beats ;
then waited for us to come up. Soon after
we lost track of you, but hearing something
come crashing down the mountain—"
" A stone."
" We followed the direction of the sound.
In the early morning Buck and Ginger came
A DAYLIGHT ATTACK 125
upon \'ou unexpectedly. As soon as you had
gone the}^ rejoined us, we shadowed you, and
3'esterday afternoon laid a plan for your es-
"• A wild, impracticable scheme. One cir-
cumstance has led to another, each involvinsr
you more deeply. My God, what a load of
obligation ! We can't stay here ; we'll starve.
Buck, couldn't you slip out in the darkness and
find help ?"
" No, siree ; I'm not goen' out o' hyar. I'm
goen' t' stay 'n' fight with the rest."
" But you may save all our lives."
" Why don't you go, Mr. Brandystone ?"
" I ? I must stay with your sister and cous-
in. Besides, I'm big, and couldn't get through
as easily as you."
" Well, I ain't a-goen' to sneak away if I am
" Buck}^" said Jack, "■ yo' needn't go ; I'll
" You don' do nuffin like dat. Missy Jack,"
cried Ginger ; " deni grillers shoot y' ! Wha'
mars' say ef I go back an' tell 'em de apple ob
he eye go down 'mong grillers fo' to git shot,
/gwine, mars'," he added to me.
But bv this time there was more callinef
126 SWEET KEVENGE
among the men below, a streak of light ap-
peared in the east, and I did not dare let any
one attempt to evade the enemy ; besides, I
could now see by the lay of the land that it
would be impossible.
Something must have given the guerrillas
an inkling of our whereabouts, for as soon as it
was light we could see them standing, looking
up at our position. I told every one to lie low,
hoping that some of the outlaws woidd climb
up to investigate, and we might pick them off.
For more than an hour we remained concealed,
onl}^ speaking in whispers ; then we saw the
knot of men below divide, three going to the
Avest, three to the east, while three began to
climb towards our fortress. One remained be-
low, and as the light increased I saw it was
We four who were armed Avith carbines
knelt behind the rocks, I to the extreme left,
Helen next, then Buck behind the stone we
had moved to fill the gap, with Ginger bring-
ing up the right end of the line. I was an ex-
cellent shot — I had long been considered one
of the best in Tennessee — and it turned out
that Helen was not bad. (xingcr was no shot
at all. I selected the man in advance for my
A DAYLIGHT ATTACK 127
especial object, designated the second for Hel-
en, and gave Buck the third. They were to
fire after me in the order named. Ginger was
to fire at any who might be left standing.
Jack had only a revolver, and I directed her to
keep back. She was trembling, and in order
to strengthen her bv concentrating her mind
on some duty, I told her to be ready to hand
us the ammunition after the first volley.
The guerrillas came on, every man holding
a carbine. When they had covered a third of
the distance I saw that Buck was about to
fire out of turn, and 1 was obliged to speak to
him somewhat sharply. I think the advanc-
ing men heard me, for they stopped and con-
sulted. The captain, standing below, called to
them to go on, and, separating so as to leave a
dozen yards between each man, skirmish-fash-
ion, they started again, watching eagerly for a
sight of something to fire at. As they were
all abreast, my order for firing would not
serve. 1 gave another.
'' ril take the left man, Miss Stanforth the
centre. Buck the right."
There was no response. All were too intent
on the work before us to speak. I permitted
the men to come within a hundred yards,
128 SWEET REVENGE
when, taking deliberate aim with a rest, I
shot my man through the heart. In another
moment Helen's rifle cracked, and the centre
man dropped. Buck, who was excited, fired
wild, and missed altogether. Ginger lost his
head completely, and did not fire at all. As
Ginger's courage deserted him, Jack's came
to her all of a sudden.
" Why don't y' shoot. Ginger ?" she cried,
with flashing e3'es. Snatching his gun and
aiming it at the remaining man, who was rap-
idly getting down the declivity, she sent him
the rest of the way wath a limp. Two men
were put out of the fight and the third disabled.
" By golly !" cried Buck, " we licked 'em,
didn't we ?''
I thought it best not to discourage him by
telling him that this was only a preliminary
skirmish, but asked Jack for the ammunition,
and we all reloaded.
The wounded man went back to the cap-
tain, who appeared greatly agitated over the
result. He was evidently surprised at the
reception of his searching-party. The men
who had gone to the flanks, hearing the firing,
rejoined their leader, and two men who had
been in the rear came forward.
A DAYLIGHT ATTACK 129
Heaven preserve us ! The captain has start-
ed up the slope at the head of a stormhig-
party of eight men.
I was appalled. We had but four guns, and
after firing]: a vollev must reload before tirini^
another. We could not expect to disable more
than four men at the first fire, then the re-
maining four Avould be upon us before we
could reload. In quick tones I gave the
" All load ; I'll fire."
With that I let drive, and dropped a man.
Then, throwing down my gun, I took Helen's,
and dropped another. Buck handed me his,
and I dropped a third.
" By jirainy !" cried Buck, exposing his
head to see better, " ain't yo' a bully shot !''
Ping! went a bullet within an inch of his ear,
and he ducked.
" Keep down !" I cried, as the lead rattled
against the rocks in front of us, and fired the
fourth gun, again hitting my man, though I
only " winged " him ; indeed, I believe he
dropped to evade the fire. By this time the
first gun had been reloaded, and I took aim at
the captain. I was sure I hit him, but he
came on. Taking the next gun now ready
130 SWEET EEVENGE
I fired at him again, but just as I did so one
of the men ste})ped in front of him and re-
ceived the shot. This finished the assault.
The men broke and tied, and before I could
get another shot were far back towards the
position from which they had started.
Strange that men will never learn the ter-
rible advantage of a force posted on an im-
pregnable position, protected by breastworks,
and able to pour shot down a steep hill at an
enemy. Two men, two girls, and a boy had
defeated the guerrillas and sent them back to
their camp. I did not fear another attack.
What I dreaded was starvation ; indeed, I
could see plainly that our enemies were pre-
paring to carr}^ out tlie starvation plan. Sev-
eral of them went in different directions,
doubtless for food. One of them passed quite
" Tm goen' t' plunk that one," said Buck.
I caught his arm and gave him a reproof
which for a while, at least, caused him to re-
member that I was in command.
" I wish they'd attack us again," said the
irrepressible boy. " I could 'a' hit that dog-
132 SWEET KEVENGE
gone ' butternut ' if somep'n hadn't joggled my
There had been nothing to joggle the boy's
arm, but I thought it best to let him keep up
his pride ; it would make him more serviceable ;
so I said nothing.
" I aimed right at the middle of his breast,"
continued Buck, " but just then he jumped
over a stone and I missed him."
"I thought some one joggled your arm?"
" Some one did. Ginger, yo' consarned old
nigger, what d' yo' go joggle me fo', just as I
was goen' to plunk him ?"
"/didn't joggle yo', Mars' Buck."
" Was it you, Ilel'n ?"
" Somebody did, or I'd 'a' hit him, sho !"
If ever a party needed breakfast it was ours.
Helen unrolled the little parcel of provisions.
I directed her to serve a half ration, or, rather,
half of what there was, and save the rest.
She did so, handing me my portion, which I
declined, but she argued that it was important
for all that I should keep up my strength,
and finally prevailed on me to eat my share.
Jaqueline and Buck ate theirs ravenously.
Each of us went to where the water was drip-
ping from the cleft and caught the drops in
our mouths. Buck, when he had finished his
breakfast, like Oliver Twist, asked for more.
It made my heart ache to refuse him, but
there was no alternative.
One danger was dwarfed by the greater
perils that surrounded us, yet it was no less
important. My wound was liable to put me
hors de combat at any moment. Fortunately,
until my dash from the guerrilla camp, I had
not been subject to any physical strain, and by
that time it had healed sufficiently to pre-
vent its opening — at an}" rate, it gave me no
trouble. The first thing Helen asked, after a
lull in the fighting, was about this wound.
She insisted on dressing it for me, and I per-
mitted her to do so. She wound around it a
fresh bandage torn from my shirt-sleeve and
was pinning it when, looking up at me, she
"You're not the first one of our men I've
assisted with bandages."
Her remark cut me like a knife. It was
plain that she was making this effort, incur-
rins: this danger, believino' me to be a Confed-
" I can't understand all these troubles that
134 SWEET REVENGE
surround you," she went on. "Why not ex-
" You know I'm charo;ed with beinfj in
league with the Yankees."
" Yes ; but your accusers are robbers and
murderers. If I thought that — " She broke
off with a frown, and turned away.
The guerrillas built a fire, and, after cook-
ing and eating breakfast, loitered about, some
chatting, some playing cards, while others de-
toted themselves to their wounded compan-
ions, making them as comfortable as possible
on beds of boughs covered with blankets. I
took advantage of their inaction to learn how
Buck had succeeded in delivering- his message
to the scout he was to meet at Huntsville. As
I could not question him before the others
without giving up my secret, I drew hnii into
the cleft behind us.
" Buck, did you find the man I sent you to
meet at Huntsville ?"
"Reckon I did."
" Tell me about it."
" All right. As soon as I got into town I went
right to the squar', 'n' stopped in front o' the
hotel. I hitched my pony to a post, 'n' went
inside. A man in the office said, ' Sonny, what
d' y' want V 'n' I said, ' I'm c^oen' up on the gal-
lery,' 'n' he said, ' What fo' T 'n' I said, ' Fo' t'
see the town.' Then I went up-stairs 'n' wait-
ed till I heard the clock striken', 'n' counted
" Not thirteen, Buck. Clocks don't strike
" Well, don't y' see, that clock at Huntsville
's a different kind. It struck either thi'teen
or fo'teen, I couldn't tell which."
"Never mind the clock. You're inventing
all this. Go on."
" Well, just as the clock struck, a man he
came out on to the gallery. He had the dog-
gonest eyes I ever saw — just like the wolf's in
Red Riding-liood. At first he didn't take any
notice o' me, looken' 's if he was bothered
'cause I Avas thar, 'n' he expected somebody.
Then he Avatched me with those sharp eyes o'
his'n, 'n' at last he said, kind o' gruff, ' 'T's a
fine day, boy,' 'n' I said, said I — what was it I
Avas to say ?"
" ' Reckon you'i'e weather-wise, stranger.' "
" Oh 3'es, I know ; but I couldn't remember
'zactl}', 'n' I said, said I, ' Reckon yo're weather-
beaten, stranger.' He stood a looken' at me
kind o' quar, 'n' I heard him a grunten'
136 SWEET REVENGE
somep'n like, ' Guess I am beat, somehow or
'nuther.' Then he asked me somep'n "bout
whether it was a rainen' at the time of the —
what was that one?''
" ' The massacre." "
" Oh yes, I know. And I said — what was
it I said ?"
" ' Bkick as night.' "
"That's it; only I fo'got, 'n' said, 'Black
as a doggone nigger,' and he said, ' What's
" ' Word.' "
"'What's the word?' 'n' I took the spitball
out o' my mouth 'n' handed it to him. He took
it 'n' read it mighty quick. Then he looked at
me and said, ' I'll be goldarned if that ain't
the littlest messenger to carry such a big mes-
sage I ever saw in my life ! Like attacken' a
fortyfication with a how'tzer.' "
" What did he do then ?"
"I don' want t' tell that."
" Why not ?"
"Well, he must 'a' thought I was a baby.''
" Come, out with it."
" He took me up and give me a kiss, rubben'
my face with that hairy beard o' his'n."
"He went down -stairs in a hurry, and I
didn't see him any mo'."
" Good for 3'ou ! Have you kept it all a
" Haven't said a word to any one."
"That's right. You've done me a great
favor, and one good turn deserves another.
I'm going to tell you how to cure yourself of
that bad habit of using useless adjectives. H
you ever get out of this, get a note-book and
pencil, and every time you use one of them
note it down. This will show you how often
you offend, and at last you will break yourself
of a very bad habit."
" I'll do that, by golly !"
At noon we Avere again tantalized at seeing
the guerrillas eating their dinner.
"I wonder what they got?" said Buck. " I
reckon 't's nothen' but fat pork, anyway. Who
wants to eat fat pork ?"
" I wish I could get my clutches on the cap-
tain," said Jack, "I'd make him give me some."
"De Lord '11 feed His chil'n," remarked
Ginger. " Didn' He send de ravens to Elijah ?"
"Not in these mountains," put in Buck.
" Ravens couldn't find an3'thing up here to
feed anybody with."
138 SWEET REVENGE
"Reckon dat raus' 'a' been in a land flowen'
wid milk 'n' honey," supplemented Ginger.
" Yo' ole fool," retorted Buck, " how could
a raven carrj^ milk ?"
" Don't be so smart, Buck," said Jack. " A
raven could take the handle of a tin bucket in
its mouth and fly with it, couldn't he?"
Then Jack and Buck fell to v^'ing with each
other which could invent the most remarkable
fabrications about the wherewithal to satisfy
" I see a darky coming," said Jack, " v»'ith
a white apron and cap, and a tra}' on his head
covered with good things to eat."
" That's nothen'," said Buck. " I see a roast-
ed goose waddlen' up the hill with the stuiBn'
tumblen' out of a hole in his breast."
"Yo' little fibber, yo' don't see any such
thing. I'll tell yo' what / see. I see a big
table down there among the guerrillas covered
with smoking beef and chicken and lamb with
mint sauce running all over it, and peas and
asparagus. Come, let's go and get some."
She was so earnest about it that I feared she
would; indeed,she started, but Helen caught and
drew her back. Throwing herself into Helen's
arms, she covered her face with her hands.
A BONTIRE DEFENCE
Morning, noon, afternoon passed with no
change in the situation. All my command
slept during the day, and even I got two or
three hours of tired nature's sweet restorer,
though I Avould not close my eyes till Helen
had promised not to talce hers off the guerril-
las till I awoke. During the afternoon all be-
ofan to suffer from huncrer, but I would not
allow the scanty bit of food remaining to be
eaten. Buck got over the noon meal bravely,
but when supper-time came he clamored for
something to eat.
"Now, see hyar, Mr. Brand vstone," he ar-
gued, " you just give me my shar' 'n' I won't
want any mo' when the rest of yo' have
" You must wait, Buck ; we shall have to
fast long enough, anyway. The longer be-
tween meals the lono:er we can hold out."
140 SWEET KEVENGE
" All right," he said, bravely, " I can hold
out as long as any of yo'."
As evenino: came on a horrible thous:ht
loomed up suddenly. If the night should be
dark, there was nothing to prevent the guer-
rillas stealing up on us unawares, and captur-
ing our strono-hold.
" Imust find a way out of this," I muttered,
and began an examination of the face of the
rock in our rear. The cleft where water drip-
ped slanted upward, a narrow opening little
wider than a man's body. I crawled into the
crevice, and, by using hands and feet, mount-
ed to the summit. I stood enchanted by
the splendid view. Northward and eastward
the Cumberland Mountains reared their heads,
a succession of wooded crests ; westward the
fair plain of Middle Tennessee ; southward.
Confederate territory cut off from us by war,
and setting aflame the imagination as to what
was taking place in the new-born nation. An
undulating horizon divided the black earth
from the scarlet sky left by the setting sun.
Scrambling over the uneven ground, climb-
ing rocks, fighting my way through thickets,
I explored every promise of outlet. There was
not a possible descent. I returned to the
A BONFIRE DEFENCE 141
mouth of the crevice, intending to rejoin my
companions. I heard some one clambering up,
and, looking down, saw Helen Stanforth. Giv-
ing her my hand, I helped her to level ground.
" You and I," I said, " should not be absent
from the front at the same time."
" Tell me," she said, fixing her e3'es on me
intentl}'', " what I want to know. I have led
Jaqueline, Buck, and Ginger into this trap in
an attempt to save you. The least I can ex-
pect is your confidence. Who are you?"
Our lives depended on absolute devotion to
each other. If I should tell her that I was a
Southern man holding a commission in the
Yankee army, that I had sent information
North to enable a Union general to capture
the region about her home, I should sap our
main element of strength. On the other hand,
I was accepting all this devotion under false
pretences. The thought was maddening. Had
she not been looking at me Avith her big, hon-
est eyes, I believe I should have shed tears of
" Miss Stanforth — Helen," I said, " who and
what I am can be of no moment now Avith
death staring us in the face. You and I have
a mutual purpose — to save those who have
142 SWEET REVENGE
been led into this peril. There is no time for
explanations. I beg of you to banish for the
time this secret, and think only of the work
She turned her eyes out to the far-distant
horizon, but did not see it, intent on her own
thoughts. Then, looking again at me, she said,
with a burst of impulse :
" To know that you are unworthy would
I bowed my head to escape her gaze. When
I looked again she had turned and was enter-
ing the crevice.
Having failed to find an outlet in our rear,
we had no choice but to face our enemies. I
cast my eyes over the only route open to a
night surprise. On our right, not far below,
w^as the bare face of a rock twenty feet hio^h,
around which was no path. To the left an-
other rock projected in such fashion that while
an enemy climbed over it his silhouette would
appear against the sky. Noticing an abun-
dance of fire-wood scattered about, I resolved
to build a bonfire, with a view to lighting up
our enemies should they attempt to steal upon
us in the night. As soon as it Avas dark
enough I sent Buck and Ginger out to gather
A BONFIRE DEFENCE 143
wood, and, selecting a fiat rock midway be-
tween those on the flanks, scooped together
some light dry stuff for kindling, and as fast
as the wood was brought me put it on. When
all was ready we returned to our fortress.
But how light a flre^ There was not a
match in the party ; indeed, the only means of
ignition we possessed was a percussion-cap. I
sacrificed two cartridges, and poured the pow-
der they contained into a bit of paper, intend-
ing to explode it with percussion-powder.
Night attacks always occur just before dawn,
and I felt confident that we should hear from
the guerrillas, if at all, between two and three
o'clock in the mornin"-. At one I awoke the
command and issued our remaining ration. It
was eaten ravenously, and when the last mor-
sel had been consumed I told all to be ready
at the slightest sound. I was going down to
the unlighted fire, and in case they heard me
hammering the percussion-powder they would
know I had heard the enemy approaching.
Then, taking Jack's revolver, I sallied forth.
I passed down to my fire-wood, inspected it
to see that it was all right, then went on far-
ther, crawling on my stomach and listening.
Noticing what in the darkness I supposed to
144 SWEET REVENGE
be a log, I resolved to crawl up behind it for
concealment. On reaching it I raised my
head and looked down into the face of a dead
man. It was the body of one of the guerrillas
we had shot during the day. This uncanny
object, encountered at dead of night, startled
me. There was the ghastly skin, the sunken
cheek, the open mouth, while the eyes were
staring up at the heavens as if they saw won-
ders hidden from the living. I drew back. A
consciousness of the horrors that awaited us
struck me like a gust of cold wind. Perhaps
before morning Helen Stanforth, or Jaque-
line, or little Buck, or all of us, would be Ij^ing
stiff and stark like that dead guerrilla.
Then a greater strength, a daring, a cun-
ning never before felt welled within me. I
crawled on till I came so near the guerrilla
camp that I could have thrown a stone into
it. They had no fire, and this in itself was
suspicious. I thought I heard a voice, but
it was doubtless some animal or a bird giving
a note of warning to its mate. I listened,
but could hear nothing which I knew to be
human. At last I sat down on a rock, and
began what to me seemed an endless vigil.
It was, perhaps, an hour after that I heard
A BONFIRE DEFENCE 145
unmistakable sounds of the guerrillas. I could
see nothing, though I could hear voices, and
voices at that time of night meant mischief.
Darting back to my wood I set the paper of
gunpowder on the rock under the dry grass,
keeping a little in reserve, and got a stone
ready to use for a hammer, then listened for
a sign of advance. I had not long to wait. A
man must have stumbled ; at any rate, I heard
something which convinced me the enemy
was coming, and, laying on my percussion-
powder, I raised the stone and brought it
Horror of horrors! The grass was blown
away without being kindled. The last chance
was gone! It was dark as pitch; not even a
ray of moonlight to protect us against the
Wait a bit. There are several spears of
grass smouldering, a spark on the end of each.
I gather them, and put tiie ember ends into
the hollow of my hand, where I hold the re-
serve gunpowder. A flash — a mere bit of
flame no bigger than a pea ! I nurse it and
put more grass with it, shove it all under the
wood, and a beautiful bright flame shoots up
that gladdens my heart. A joyful shout from
146 SWEET REVENGE
the fort sends a pleasant thrill through every
fibre in my body.
Ping! A bullet within an inch of my nose.
I dart away into the darkness, and in another
minute am in the fortress.
I had scarcely got behind the breastworks
when the glare of the burning wood showed
me half a dozen men dashing up to the fire,
and I knew they would try to scatter it.
"When I count three, fire into the crowd.
One ! two ! three !"
Four bullets flew at the little knot of men
below. We could not see who was hit, but
all turned and started down the declivity,
though one man dropped before he had gone
a dozen yards. We lost no time in reloading,
and had a new charge ready in every piece
before seeing any signs of their return. But
Buck, who took more time and made more
fuss about his work than all the rest together,
had scarcely rammed his charge home and
fixed the percussion - cap on the nipple when
three men made a dash at the fire. Two of
them reached it and began to kick vigorously.
I took deliberate aim at one of them and shot
him through the head. My gun had scarcely
cracked Avhen Helen let drive at the remain-
A BONFIEE DEFENCE 147
ing man. He staggered, but kept on kicking
at the fire. I snatched Buck's gun and fin-
ished him, dropping him on the burning
brands. The third man, who had started for-
ward several times and each time turned back,
got out of sight as quickly as possible.
"Look a' dar!" cried Ginger, pointing to
I turned my head, and there above the hori-
zon was the faintest trace of dawn.
After this second defeat we conld see the
guerrillas gathered in a knot, evidently dis-
cussing the situation. They talked so loud
that we could often catcli a word, and their
gesticulations were plain to us all. At last
the captain took a white handkerchief from
his pocket, fixed it to a stick, and, holding it
over his head, advanced towards us.
"A flag of truce!" we all exclaimed to-
" He's going to offer us something to eat I''
cried Jack. '• I knew he Avouldn't let us starve."
I stepped over the breastworks to go and
meet the bearer of the flag. Buck called out :
" Tell him I'll take some fried chicken fo'
I met the captain at the spot Avhere we had
built our fire. His arm was in a sling and he
was very pale. Something told me that he
WOMAN S PLUCK 149
did not relish the work ia which he was en-
"I've come to tell you," he said, "that if
ycjll surrender, the rest of yo' people can go."
" What assurance have I that you will keep
the terms ?"
" The word of a — " He stopped. I saw
that habit had led him to use an expression
common among gentlemen in the South, but
the word had stuck in his throat.
" Captain," I said, " you are a better man
than the company you keep. Satisfy me that
the women, the boy, and the negro shall go
free, and you are welcome to ?«<?."
" The men are divided about the women,"
he replied, lowering his voice.
" Which party holds the balance of power?"
" It's hard to tell."
" Then we have no assurance that if we
surrender you can keep your promise to let
them go unharmed ?"
" There's no telling. Befo' your escape and
the killing yo' all have been doing I could
have fixed it. But the men are exasperated
at the damage you've done."
" Can't you be blind, and let us out to-
150 SWEET REVENGE
"No; Fv^e lost more control of my men
within the last few days than all the time I've
commanded them. If they saw the slight-
est move on my part to let yo' slip, they'd
shoot me, and yo' would never get out alive,
either. I can't stand here talking any longer.
They'll suspect something. What's yo' an-
I turned the matter quickh'^ over in my mind.
" Captain," I said, " I will transmit your
proposition. If your terras are accepted, I
will go down to your camp and my friends
will follow. If they are not accepted, we will
wave to you. In this event you will know
that these noble girls, this brave boy, this
faithful negro, prefer to take their chances
Both of us turned without another word,
and in a few minutes the captain was with
his men, and I had joined my little half-starved
army. I was received with eager, question-
" He has made a proposition," I said. " I
will give it to you with the information that
goes with it. If we will surrender, he prom-
ises that all shall go free except me."
I paused a moment to watch the expression
woman's pluck 151
of their faces. I saw at once that they were
all bitterly disappointed.
" I feel bound to state further that the cap-
tain lias informed me that he cannot surely
guarantee your safety, though he would if he
could. He tells me that the men are divided,
and he does not know himself which party is
the stronger. You are not sure of safety,
but you have a chance, whereas if we are
taken by force the chances are all against
you. Before giving my own views, I wish to
get an expression of opinion from each one of
you separately. Miss Stanforth, shall we ac-
cept the proposition or not ? Say yes or no."
She curled her lip. " I don't care to con-
sider such a proposition."
" Miss Rutland ?"
" No !" cried little Jack, with a snap in her
" Buck ?"
" Reckon I'd ruther stay whar I am awhile
longer, though, by golly, I'm mighty hungry."
He spoke the last words very ruefully.
"I ain't no traitor-man, mars', ef I air black.
Ginger hain't gwine t' talk 'bout gibben no-
body up t' save hisself."
153 SWEET REVENGE
"My friends," I said, and I could not re-
press a tremor in my voice, though God knows
I tried, " I cannot accept your sacrifice. The
guerrillas, having secured me, will doubtless
quarrel about you, and the captain and those
who are with him may find an opportunity to
let you get away under cover of the night."
"No! no!" cried all. " AYe'U stand to-
"How were you to repl}^?" asked Helen.
" If the terms were accepted, we were to go
down ; if rejected, we w^ere to wave."
Helen took off her check bonnet, and, ty-
ing it to a carbine, stood up on the rocks and
waved it to the guerrillas, who were standing
below watching for our signal, while our little
command gave as lusty a cheer as their ex-
hausted condition would admit.
But the real heroism was yet to come. I
had seen evidence that the woman wing of my
army was not to be appalled at any propo-
sition, but it was impossible that I could be
prepared for what was to follows I have
sometimes wondered if it was not rather an
emanation of genius than heroism, but have
invariably concluded that it was the genius
WOMAN S PLUCK 153
The first flush of excitement at the rejection
of the terms being over, Jack began to show
signs of irritation — a condition I attributed to
the gnawing pangs of hunger. She shook her
fist at the guerrillas, vowing that if she could
ever get her papa again he should scour the
country till he had captured every one of
them, and when captured she would herself
take inexpressible pleasure in making targets
of them for pistol-practice. Then she would
call to them for something to eat. They were
too far to hear her, and, of course, her request
would not have been granted if they had.
"Captain! good captain! dear captain!'' she
cried, " do let us out of this ; that's a dear
boy." Then she turned to JMiss Stanforth.
" Helen, what in the world did we come on
such an errand as this fo' ? Why didn't we
send the soldiers ?"
" Jack," said Helen, " I'm sorry you regret
it. /don't; I never regret."
" Yo're showen' the white feather/' said
Jack's ej^es glistened with anger.
" The white feather ! What do yo' mean, yo'
little pest ? White feather ! I'm not afraid of
all the guerrillas in Christendom. They won't
154 SWEET REVENGE
hurt 7ne. I'm going down there to ask 'em fo*
something to eat. I'll get 3^0' all off. White
feather! I'll show yo?^ .^"
She sprang upon the rampart, but I cauglit
her and dragged her back.
" Let me go !" she screamed.
" Didn' I tole yo' Missy Jack hab de
biggest temper in de Souf?" cried Ginger,
" Let her go," said Helen, " and I'll go with
her. If those of the guerrillas Avho are dis-
posed to protect us can do so they will suc-
ceed as well without you as with you. In-
deed, your presence Avill only tend to irritate
them. Come, Jack, we'll try it."
I stood aghast at such a plan. I forbade it.
The girls were determined. I begged, order-
ed, stormed at them, declaring that for every
step they took towards that den of hell-hounds
I would take two. At last Helen laid her hand
on my sleeve and looked me calmly in the eye.
"Major Branderstane, I want you to let me
have my way in this matter. You owe it to
me. When you were wounded I took j^ou in
and succored you. Since we have been in
this place I have obeyed your every order.
Jack has flashed out unknowingly, uninten-
WOMAN S PLUCK 155
tionally, a stroke of genius. Jack is a genius.
She has hit on our only chance. She fascinat-
ed the guerrillas once, and she'll do it again.
She will split them in halves, and set one-half
against the other. But she will need 7ne.
Give me that revolver."
All this was lost on me. I swore they
should not go. I planted mj^self between
them and the rampart. Helen stepped to one
side of me, Jack darted to the other. Ginger
put his hand on my arm.
" Don't stop Missy Jack, mars'. Missy Jack
can do eberyting Avid men-folks." He turned
ni}^ face to the cliff. " Look dat a way, an' yo'
won't see hit."
When I broke from the old man Helen and
Jack were beyond the rampart.
I have seen lifeboat-men pull out in a tem-
pestuous sea, breasting a howling wind and
madly tossing billows. I have seen men march
out to battle with almost a certainty of death
or mutilation, but I have never looked upon
any sight with the mingled terror and admira-
tion that thrilled me as I beheld these two
girls, without other weapon than woman's
loveliness, descend the rocky slope towards the
guerrilla camp. They moved, hand in hand,
156 SWEET REVENGE
as I have seen graceful ships sail side by side.
Helen was the taller and the more command-
ing, but both walked erect ; Helen buoyed by
a native courage, Jaqueline confident in the
possession of a gift, a genius for bending men
to her Avill.
They had scarcely left us when the guer-
rillas caught sight of them and stood looking
up in stupid wonder. Ginger, Buck, and I
were staring down upon them. Ginger's eyes
starting out of his head, Buck leaning ex-
citedly over the rampart, I clutching my car-
bine. On went the girls, between the flank-
ing rocks, out upon a gentle swell, through a
slight depression, over stones, weeds, brambles,
till at last they came within fifty yards of tlie
guerrilla camp. Then came a cheer from the
bandits — I knew not whether of triumph or
welcome — and the girls entered the camp.
What they said, what was said to them, I
could not hear — I could only see. Captain
Ringoid raised his hat and stood Avitli it in his
hand. He was evidently speaking, for the
men gathered round, and all seemed to be in-
tent on him and the girls. Then I saw Helen
step a little to the front, and all faces were
turned to her. Occasionallv she made a g-est-
woman's pluck 157
lire, now turning to our little fortress, now
pointing the finger of scorn at the guerrillas,
as though to shame them or to influence what-
ever of manliness there might be in them. She
Avas making them a long speech — at least, it
seemed so to me, who could see but not hear.
At last there was a cheer. The conference
Then the little actress, Jaqueline, was evi-
dently using her art. She would whisk up to
one of the men, stand before him in a favorite
position of hers, bent slightly forward, and
shake her linger in his face. All the men stood
watching her. Occasionally there came a
burst of laughter, a yell of applause, a clap-
ping of hands, and I knew that Jack was car-
rying her audience.
Then I could see the fig-ures below beo;inninof
to busy themselves about preparations for sup-
per. Helen and Jack took hold as they had
done once before, the men permitting them to
do the work.
Buck, beside me, chuckled.
" What is it. Buck ?"
" That consarned Jack's goen' roun' thar
with the skillet in one han' and chawen' some-
p'n she's got in the other. Wish I was thar."
158 ■ SWEET KEVENGE
When supper was served each man vied
with the others to provide for their guests.
Jack was seated on the ground, her back rest-
ing against a tree, a plate in her lap, a tin cup
at her side, evidently making a hearty supper,
keeping the men running back and forth from
the fire, filling her plate or her cup at every
After supper we could see that the confer-
ence was resumed between Helen and the
guerrillas. She Avas evidently arguing with
them to effect a purpose. The captain had a
good deal to say, but all were taking part in
the debate. Then the girls started for our
fort. One of the men approached the captain
and shook a fist in his face. The captain
knocked him down. Another started after
the retreating party, but was intercepted. A
general fight ensued, some of the men placing
themselves between the others and the girls,
who were now coming up the hill, quickening
their pace at every step. Cocking my car-
bine, I ran down to join the girls, meeting
them midway between the fort and the guer-
rilla camp. First Jack came dashing past me,
wild with terror, her cheeks blanched, her eyes
starino-. Helen came on more slowlv, turnino-
WOMAN S PLUCK 159
occasionally with hot cheeks and flashing eye.
Below among the guerrillas was a babel —
swearing, howling, and shooting, the protect-
ing party being the stronger and keeping the
others at bay. I put my arm behind Helen,
and hurried her up the steep slope. When we
got to the fort Jack was already there, crouch-
ing behind the rampart, her head appearing
above it, her eyes as big as saucers.
" Goody gracious, what a fool I was to go
down there ! Wouldn't do it again fo' any-
Helen gave me a hurried account of the
visit. On entering the camp the captain had
complimented them upon their bravery, both
in the fig'hts that had occurred and in coming:
out unarmed, assuring them — lookinfj: omi-
nously at some of the more cutthroat of his
men — that if any man offered them the slight-
est indignity he would shoot him on the spot.
Helen had replied that whatever they were,
she believed they were brave, and above in-
juring a Avoman. Then she held up to them
the magnitude of their crimes, and bade them
go and enlist in the Confederate army. She
succeeded in getting an oifer of a free con-
duct to all save me; this they persistently re-
160 SWEET REVENGE
fused. After much urging the captain agreed
that Ave should be let alone till the next morn-
ing — a promise on which I placed no reliance.
Helen begged to be permitted to carry me
provisions. This was also refused.
" I did all I could," she said, ruefully, "but
I couldn't move even the captain. They
wouldn't give me a morsel for you."
" Oh, Helen," said Jack, " I'm tired of hear-
ing yo' whine," and taking off her sunbonnet.
out rolled a liberal supply of corn-pone and
"You little thief!" cried Helen, and threw
her arms around her cousin.
A second time my life had been saved, at
least temporarily, by Jaqueline.
The night passed without an attack. I pre-
pared a fire as before, but it was not needed.
Day dawned, and we could see that the guer-
rillas had made themselves more comfortable,
having constructed a rude hut of boughs for
shelter, showing conclusivel}'' that they in-
tended to wait patiently for the starving proc-
ess to do its work. During the day the
remnant of the provisions Jack had purloined
was consumed, and the command Avas supper-
less. Again we entered upon a long, weary
night. All except myself were so worn that
they evinced little care for watching. They
were getting benumbed, a condition which
comes at last over one hunted for his life.
As for me, my position was harrowing. My
devoted friends who had made the attempt
to rescue me were starving, and, to crown
all, Helen Stanforth, who had instigated the
162 SWEET REVENGE
attempt, planned it, and led the others into
it, was deceived as to my true character. I
brooded over the situation till I was well-nigh
insane. Then I made a resolve — a resolve
that might free the others, but would end in
my death. I would go down to the guerrillas
and give myself up. It was possible that my
case having been disposed of, Captain Kin-
gold and his adherents would be able to pro-
tect the girls, and. Buck and Ginger being of
no moment to the band, all might go in peace.
But there was an obstacle in the way that I
knew would not be easily overcome — the oppo-
sition of all my friends. It was hard for me
to go down to my death. How could I bring
myself to do so with all these beloved ones
endeavoring to prevent me ! There was one
way by which I might render them less averse
to the plan. By proclaiming the military mis-
sion which had taken me to Alabama I might
render myself an object of hatred and con-
tempt. Despite the pain this confession would
cost me, I resolved to make it.
At the moment I took my resolution I looked
up at Helen, who was always my first ob-
ject of thought before any important move.
She was leanino- over the battlement looking-
A BUGLE-CALL 163
down upon the guerrillas. In her face was a
strength, an honesty such as I had never seen
before on that of any woman. My resolve
dwindled before that heroic countenance. I
could not turn her sublime faith in me to de-
However, my purpose to end the struggle
by my own surrender was unchanged. Rising,
I called out in a tone which at once attracted
attention and denoted that I had something of
' importance to say,
" Dear friends I"
All looked at me inquiringly.
" I am going down there to give myself up;
then you can go free."
Helen's gaze bespoke not only her astonish-
ment but dismay.
" What yo' going to do that fo' ?" asked
" Because I owe it to you all to do so."
" I'm goen' with yo'," said Buck.
" You will do no such thing ; you must stand
by your sister and cousin."
" What d' y' want to leave us in the lurch
fo' ?" said Jack, impatiently.
This imputed motive brought a fresh addi-
tion to my distress. Even with a perfect under-
164 SWEET REVENGE
standing between me and the others my burden
was hard enough to bear ; Jack's taunt well-
nigh turned the scale. Bending to the cliff, I
buried my face in my hands. A soft hand
was laid on mine. Helen was endeavoring to
uncover my face. I turned and met her gaze
— strong, tender, sympathetic.
"Your life is not yours to surrender. You
must wait till it is forced from 3'^ou,"
" I would be unworthy of your sublime de-
votion should I accept any further sacrifice,
especially since it can be of no avail."
" By giving up now you would turn all our
efforts to nothing. We shall have made a fail-
ure that will remain an eternal burden."
" It will be light compared with my self-
condemnation when I see you die with me."
By this time Jack had seized my other hand
with both of hers.
" Yo' can't go ; yo' mustn't think of it. What
would we do without yo' ?"
" Cease trying to make a coward of me," I
cried, " or, by God, I shall go mad."
I sprang towards the rampart.
" Stop !" cried Helen, imperatively. "' I own
your life to dispose of as I will — I and Jack.
Had it not been for me, you would have bled
A BUGLE-CALL 165
to death when you received your wound. Had
it not been for Jack, you would have ah^eady
been murdered by the guerrillas."
" Yes, and I am not so base as to pull niy
benefactors down with me. Stand aside."
Jack spoke the word in her quick way, pois-
ing her head on one side to listen. She had
heard a low whistle. In another moment it
was repeated, seeming to come from below,
where we had built our bonfire. A figure
was advancing through the gloom, holding
aloft a white handkerchief. I jumped from
the rampart and ran down to meet this " flag,"
which I soon saw was borne by Captain Rin-
" What do you want ?"
" Don't let your women come into our camp
again. Jaycox is back, and he and Halliday
have got the upper hand. I'm powerless."
" Will your men let the women go if I give
myself up ?"
"No; stay with them to the last."
" One word more."
" There's no time. I have stolen away, and
if I am missed and it's known where I have
been, I'll be a dead man."
166 SWEET REVENGE
He was gone before the last word was spo-
ken. I returned to the fortress.
"What is itr' cried Jack, expectantl3\
" He has lost the power to protect 3-011 ; he
advises me to stay with you to the last."
" Yes," I replied, with a sigh.
" Thank God !" exclaimed Helen.
Another nio-ht of horror ; a risiiiij: sun, flood-
ing the face of the rocks and our wan faces
with a ruddy glow. A more wretched lot of
beings could not be found among castaways at
sea. We had not slept during the night, for
whatever of rest had come to any of us had
been rather stupor than sleep. Our clieeks
were sunken ; our eyes, deep in their sockets,
were turned towards the red orb of day, which
to our fevered imaginations seemed to be ad-
vancing to strike the final blow.
A great change had come over us during
the night. Jack alternated between bursts
of passion and a devil-may-care spirit, sprin-
kled with humorous sallies between tears and
smiles, which served to lighten momentarily
the gloom for the others, but only rendered
me more wretched. Buck craved food more
A BUGLE-CALL 167
than all the rest, and after a fe\y vain efforts
to appear unconcerned, took on a ghastly look
that cut me to the heart. Ginger spent a
great deal of his time in prayer. Helen seemed
calm, yet I noticed a strange look in her eye.
Up to this terrible morning she had been the
mainstay of the part3\ Under the strain that
smouldering fire which burned within her
flared ominously. Turning to me, she asked,
" Are you a Confederate, or are you a —
" What matters it now ?"
" I came to save you, understanding you to
be a Confederate."
"Would you abandon me now if 3^ou knew
me to be a Union man?"
She turned away, and I saw that she was
weeping. I put my arm about her and drew
her head down on my breast. There she wept
long and silently. Whether she was uncon-
scious of what she did, or whether her suffer-
ings made her careless, I did not know, but as
I felt her heart beatino^ as^ainst mine I was
conscious of the birth of a new love.
As the sun rose higher it beat down upon
us with all the enervatins- heat of an unseason-
168 SWEET REVENGE
able day. The water dripping back of us alone
sustained and refreshed us. One b}^ one we
would go to the cleft, and, standing under the
cooling drops, receive them in our mouths.
We envied the birds the food they bore to
their nests, and the freedom of those soaring
far above in the limitless ocean of air. Why
could we not be given wings to fly from our
rocky prison? The wrecked are prone to
dwell on hallucinations ; so to us came sounds
denoting the approach of rescuers. One would
hear the tramp of armed men ; another would
see the white covers of a wagon-train. All
day we were tortured by these fancies, till at
last I ceased to pay any attention to them.
" I hear horse's hoofs," said Buck.
" Oh no, you don't, Buck," I said, laying my
hand on his head.
" I tell yo' I do."
^' Listen," said Helen.
We all listened, but so far as I was concerned
there w^as no unusual sound.
" I hear them, too," said Jack.
It was singular that these two should
agree. I looked anxiously at Helen. My
hearing was not especially acute ; if Helen
had heard, I might have thought there was
A BUGLE-CALL 169
something to hear. She hstened a long while,
but no sound came to her.
" It's gone," said Buck.
" So it is," said Jack. " I heard it; I know
I turned away. It was plain to me that
they had been tortured by another hallucina-
tion. Neither Buck nor Jack heard anything
more, and the incident was soon forgotten, at
least by Helen and by me, who had heard
nothing. AVe all relapsed into that dreadful
waitins: — waiting: for the time when the fear
of death would be overcome by the pangs of
starvation. Helen suddenly looked at me, that
dangerous light which I had seen before in
" Your enemy V she asked.
" What enemy ?"
" The one you came to Alabama to kill."
" I shall never kill him now."
" Do you mean that you abandon your
revenge ?" Slie spoke contemptuously.
" With death staring me, staring you and
the others in the face — you who have wrecked
3^ourselves in a vain attempt to save me — my
private griefs sink to nothingness."
" You must be revenged." She spoke as if it
170 SWEET REVENGE
were she and not I who was to be the aven-
" I remember ; you were to help me."
" I will help you."
" There is no need ; we are doomed."
" We shall live ; and you will meet him."
" And then ?"
" You will kill him."
" My poor girl, think no more of that. Let
us fix our minds on gentler things ; let us hope
for some escape from this dreadful fate."
She sat down on the bare rock, I beside her.
"We both looked out upon the setting sun, tint-
ing the mountains with ominous blood-stains,
like those I had seen on the evening I reached
the guerrilla band. Jack was sitting holding
her knees, rocking back and forth ; Buck was
lying on his back with his eyes shut ; Ginger
had finished a prayer and was rising from his
knees. Suddenly the whole command started
up as if touched by a current of vitality. There
rang out on the still mountain air the clear
tones of a bugle.
There was no hallucination about this sound.
Each note cut the air with scimitar-like sharp-
ness. To our ears, whetted as they were for
some tidings of relief, it was like trumpet
A BCGLE-CALL 171
tones from heaven. It echoed and re-echoed
through the mountains, each echo fainter than
the last, dying softly in the far distance.
Shading my eyes Avith my hand, peering
down towards tlie road, I saw through a small
opening in the trees liles of cavalry passing by
fours. They were too far for me to distinguish
whether they wore the blue or the gray; but
it made no difference; either side would, be
welcome. Seizing a carbine, I pointed it at the
sky and fired.
The bugle and my shot produced a magical
effect on the guerrillas. AVithout waiting to
gather anything but their arms, every man of
them darted away into the woods. They knew
well what would be their fate could we open
communication with the cavalry.
" 'Not a moment is to be lost," I cried to my
command; "that bugle -call was an order to
halt. We must catch the soldiers before they
Gathering the guns and putting half a
dozen cartridges that remained in my pocket,
we all left the fort that had served us so
well and started down the declivity. With-
out the inspiration of those bugle notes we
could scarcely have crawled away. Now we
173 SWEET EEVENGE
not only walked, but walked rapidly. Once
past the flanking rocks, we turned to the left,
skirted the base of the hill, and made straiorht
for the road. I led, and so great was my
anxiety to get the otliers forward that I Avas
constantly getting ahead of them. I saw that
Buck w^as lagging, and 1 was starting back to
help him when Helen stooped, took him up in
her arms, and threw him over her shoulder.
He kicked so vigorously at this indignity that
Helen put him down, and, his fury lending him
strength, he at once took the lead beside me.
"We hurried on, now" and again looking back to
make sure that we were not followed, climbing
over rocks, through ravines, around projecting
points, I directing the course towards the spot
Avhere I had seen the passing troopers. We
had traversed half the distance when there
came another bugle -call. It Avas the order
" Forward !"
I could not repress an exclamation of chagrin.
I knew the guerrillas heard all we heard, and
this last bugle order would probably arrest
their flight and bring them back after us.
" Come !" I cried, '' we are still in peril."
I dashed on for a short distance, then turned
and cast a Hance behind me. Helen was
A BUGLE-CALL 173
marching firmh^; Jack was staggering. As I
looked she pitched forward and fell. Before I
could reach her Ginger had picked her up, and,
gathering her limp bod\" in his arms, her head
resting on his shoulder, carried her on. The
burden, so precious to the faithful old slave,
seemed to give him fresh courage, and he
pushed on, though with tottering steps.
" I'll relieve you presently, Ginger," I said,
" Hold out as long as you can."
We came to a depression, in the centre of
which ran a mountain stream ; the descent and
the ascent on the opposite side were both rocky,
and covered with a thick growth of low tim-
ber, and difficult to pass. I glanced hastily to
the ri":ht and to the left, but. seeing no better
passage, plunged down the declivity. Buck
was now sticking to me like a leech, Helen
was just behind, while a hundred yards back
Ginger staggered along with Jack. I waited
a moment for him to come up, and then led
the way into the ravine, intending to take his
burden from him when we had passed the
stream. Once at the creek, we waded across.
In the middle Ginger stumbled and dumped
his burden into the water.
The effect on Jack was marvellous. The
174 SWEET REVENGE
cold water brought a reaction which, if not
pleasing, was at least beneficial. She flew
into a towering passion at Ginger for dropping
her, and when I attempted to take her up
gave me a box on the ear that made it tingle.
Dripping, she dashed up the rise in the ground,
storming as she went, and gained the summit
before the rest.
Pushing through a level wooded space, we
soon came to the road. A bugle ahead sound-
ed the order to trot. Scarcely had its echoes
died away Avhen, from the direction of the
outlaws' deserted camp came a shrill whistle.
" The guerrillas !" I cried. " It is now a
race between life and death."
I WAS at a loss to know what had brouHit
a bod}^ of cavalry up into the Cumberland
mountains. I learned afterwards that they
had come from Shelbyville and were on their
way to attack Bridgeport, where the Memphis
and Charleston railroad crossed the Tennessee,
with a view to burning the bridge. At Tracy
City they had heard of a Confederate force
moving on their flank to cut them off, and re-
traced their steps. Buck and Jaqueline had real-
1}^ heard them going southward early in the
afternoon. The bugle -calls we all heard so
distinctly were sounded on their way back.
" Where did you leave your horses ?" I asked,
quickly, of Helen as we hurried on.
" In a clump of trees near the road. There
it is now." She pointed to a thicket.
Great was my anxiety as I ran to the place
designated, to know if the horses were still
176 SWEET KEVENGE
there. I was doomed to disappointment ;
they were gone. There was no time for re-
pining over the loss. ■ I most think out the
problem of our immediate action, and that in-
stantly. Two courses were open to us. We
might follow the cavalry northward, or we
could strike out towards the south. Each plan
had its advantages. If we followed the cav-
alry we might succeed in coming up with
them, in which event we should be safe ; but
as they were mounted and we were not, there
was little hope of our overtaking them. Be-
sides, the guerrillas would expect us to follow
that course. If we pushed south we must
abandon all hope of falling in with the troop-
ers, but would doubtless mislead the guerrillas
and gain considerable time. We would also
be moving towards the homes of the others of
the party. I struck out southward.
"What are yo' going that way fo'?" cried
'• It's the way to go."
" Well, go ahead ; I'm going after the sol-
She turned and started northward. I seized
her, and, taking her in my arms, carried her
along with the rest, she raining a shower of
blows from her little list upon m}' head. "We
pressed on without a word, till Jack, either
tired of the situation, or becoming sensible
of the absurdity of her action, promised that
if I would put her down she would go with
us peaceabh^ I set her on the ground in a
very disgruntled condition.
"I wisii Captain Kingold were here," she
muttered, angrily ; " he'd make you pay fo'
The road was so winding that I did not fear
au}'^ one behind could see us from a distance,
while, should we leave it, our progress would
be very slow. I chose to take the risk of be-
ing seen, and put as great a distance as possible
between us and the outlaws, while they sup-
posed they were on our track in the direction
of the cavalry ; for I felt sure they would ex-
pect us to take that course. We had not gone
far before we met a lean countr3'man on horse-
back. In a few words I told him of our situa-
tion, and begged him if he met the guerrillas
to mislead them. When he learned of our
starving condition he pulled a small black bot-
tle containing whiskey out of his saddle-bag.
I forced every member of the party to drink,
and, tossing the empty bottle at the country-
178 SWEET KEVENGE
man, hurried on. I knew that the sthnulant
would avail us but a little while, then would
only make matters worse. Helen walked on,
showing no effect whatever from the potation,
Jack danced along as if she were at a picnic
party, while Buck suddenly became brave as
"Don't yo' think, Mr. Brandystone," he
said, with difficulty getting breath enough to
articulate while walking so fast, " we'd better
stop 'n' fight 'em ?"
"I think you'd better stop talking and save
your breath for walking."
" Reckon we better stop," said Ginger, " 'n'
thank de Lawd fo' letten us out o' dat trap, 'n'
pray fo' dem g'rillas 't git los' in de wilder-
"We can do that while we're walking," said
Helen, " and not lose any time."
" 'Spec' de pra'rs on de knees is mo' effica-
cerous," replied Ginger, " but mebbe we don'
need 'em like we did a spell ago."
Still there was no sound in our rear. Helen
asked if I did not think that keeping the road
was pretty risky. I told her tliat I would
soon give the word to take to the woods.
Coming to a point where there was a turn,
leaving a straight piece of road back of us, I
told the rest to go on while I waited and
watched. I stood castino- o-lances back till inv
army reached another turn in advance, then,
pressing forward, caught up with them. In
this Avay I kept them in the road and main-
tained a rear watch at the same time for
nearly half an hour. Then the strength of
the party, which had thus far been supplied
by excitement, suddenly began to droop, and
I, feeling that I had used all the energy
there was in them, led the way off the road
into the heart of the forest. AVe had scarcely
got into the woods when we heard a clatter-
ing of hoofs on the road. "Whether they were
made by the guerrillas' horses or not I did not
know, but I felt very sure they were. AVe
waited till they were out of hearing; then
every one sank down on the ground.
"Now, Gringer," I said, "it is a good time
to giv^e thanks."
Getting on his knees. Ginger poured out the
thanks of the party in words that came as
smoothly and plentifully as the waters of a
running stream. I, being of that persuasion
which has for its motto, " Trust in God, but
keep your powder dry,'- and seeing that Gin-
180 SWEET KEVENGE
ger was disposed to prolong his thanksgiving
indefinitely, got up and started to find a con-
venient pLace to hide. I soon struck a little
pocket, formed by the coming together of
several declivities, and surrounded by thickets.
A little runnel passed through it, and, stooping
down, I quenched a thirst that was burning
me. Returning to the party, I led them to
the retreat I had found for tliem, then left
them to go in search of provisions.
It was now quite dark. I walked half a
mile, when I saw the Hghts of Tracy City. Go-
ing to the town and selecting a house standing
apart from the rest, I marched boldly up to it
and knocked at the door. It was opened by a
girl, the only occupant of the place, a wild-eyed
creature in dingy calico, unshod, her square-cut
locks tucked behind her ears. She appeared
to be in a chronic state of fright, and evident-
ly thought me one of those men who were go-
ing about taking advantage of the absence of
restraint induced by war to help themselves
to whatever they wanted. I asked her for some
food and a few cooking utensils, and when I
paid her for them she Avas struck dumb with
amazement. I returned to camp with provi-
sions, matches, a skillet, and a coffee-pot.
Gino;er and Buck had frathered a little wood
for the fire. At the inner extremity of the
pocket we occupied was a low ledge of over-
hanging rock. It projected but a few feet,
and was about the height of little Buck from
the ground. I hesitated for some time wheth-
er it would not be dangerous to light a fire
and thus guide our enemies to where we were,
but at last concluded to place the wood under
the ledge and cover the front with boughs.
Driving three stakes into the ground, I placed
the wood under them and lighted it. Then
filling my coffee-pot with water from the
stream, and putting in my coifee, a very pleas-
ant odor soon greeted our nostrils.
But all were too famished to Avait for a
cooked supper. Seizing upon some corn-pone
I had brought, the others devoured it eagerly,
I restraining my appetite long enough to put
some bacon into the skillet. One article of
food after another was devoured as it was got
ready, and our coffee without milk came in at
the end like the last course at a dinner.
As soon as we had finished our supper we
put out the fire, lay boughs where it had been,
and covered them with dry leaves, making a
bed for the two girls and Buck. Ginger was
183 SWEET REVENGE
to bivouac wherever he liked, while I proposed
to watch. Leaving the others to get to bed,
I took a carbine and walked towards the road.
There was a light step behind me, and, turn-
ing, I saw Helen coming.
" Go back," I said, " and take your rest.
You need all you can get."
"I wish to take half your watch."
" You shall do no such thing."
" I am strong ; the supper has revived me."
" Helen," I said, quietly, at the same time
taking her hand, " I am in command ; as a good
soldier it is your duty to obey."
I led her back to the camp. As we passed,
hand in hand, over the dead leaves and crack-
ling twigs, ray heart was filled, even in our
peril, with a supreme happiness, yet a happiness
marred by the gulf between us. I longed to
tell her that I loved her — for her bravery, her
strength of character, her devotion, for her-
self — but I could not without confessing myself
an enemy to all she held dear.
When we reached the camp we stood face
to face in the moonlight. It seemed as impos-
sible to restrain the words I would utter as it
was impossible to utter them. I dropped her
hand and walked away to resume my watch.
From an eminence I turned and looked back.
She was still standing in the moonlight. I
knew that she was disapjDointed that I had
withheld an expression of my love. What
could I do? Turning again, I passed in among
All through that long night I walked with a
soft tread, hearkening to the slightest sound,
straining my ears whenever a breeze rustled
the branches of tlie trees, or starting when I
heard some fur-coated creature prowling in
search of food. Yet during my watch one
picture was ever present before me. All night
I saw Helen standing in the moonlight, all
night I brooded over the barrier that separated
us. At dawn I felt that I must get some rest,
or I would not be able to lead the party farther.
Going to the little camp and awakening Ginger,
I led him out to where I had been watching-,
and told him to keep moving back and forth a
short distance from the road, and in case of
danger raise the alarm. Then, returning to
camp, I threw myself on the ground and fell
I WAS awakened by the kick of a heavy
boot, and, opening my eyes, looked into the
face of Tom Jaycox. The expression of fiend-
isli joy that shone through anxious caution
froze the very marrow of my bones. The
muzzle of his revolver was within a few inches
of my forehead, and his look told me that a
word of alarm or a motion for self-defence
would be a signal for a bullet to go crashing
through my brain.
" Git up," he whispered.
I stood on my feet.
" Move on."
It was the dawn of a beautiful spring morn-
ing. The perfume of young verdure, the twit-
ter of birds, an occasional cock-crow in the
distance, gave me the thought that it is de-
lightful to live. But they threw over me as
well a contrasting gloom, for it seemed certain
that this fair scene was the last of those pict-
ures drawn by the divinely artistic hand of
the Creator that I should ever look upon. My
companions were all wrapt in a heavy slumber,
induced by a long period of unrest. I bade a
mute farewell to each as I passed, breathing
a blessing on little Buck, whose arms were
clasped about his sister, his young face and
figure relaxed ; on Jaqueline, her white face
resting in a profusion of tumbled black hair;
on Helen, her features strong even in sleep.
There was a line between the lids of Helen's
eyes ; but I thought little of that, for it is not
unusual for people to show this line when
sleeping. I thanked God that my presence
would no longer be a menace to these dear
ones who had suffered so much for me.
Jaycox marched me out of the camp tow-
ards the road, across it, and into a w^ood on the
other side, where his horse was picketed to a
tree. He was constantly looking about and
listening, and I inferred this was for others of
the gang, who had doubtless separated in order
to cover more ground in their search for us.
Finally the brute stood still, and, pointing his
revolver straight at me, fired two shots in rapid
succession, the bullets singing close to my ears.
186 SWEET REVENGE
He did not intend to kill me, though he was
indifferent whether he did or not ; he wished
to serve a double purpose of signalling the
band and intimidating me. Two similar shots
were fired far to the north, and then m^^ cap-
tor started off with me in that direction.
Entering the road we proceeded, Jaycox,
some ten yards behind me, amusing himself
by firing occasional shots at me, evidently try-
ing to see how near he could come to me with-
out hitting me. One of his bullets grazed my
ear, and I felt blood trickling on my collar,
good evidence that he had missed his imagi-
nary mark on the wrong side. He was doubt-
less firing for his double purpose of letting his
companions know of his whereabouts and of
torturing me. His signals and those of my
other enemies were drawing nearer and nearer
too:ether. I did not doubt tliat the o-uerrillas
would prevent any further opportunity for
escape by murdering me at once, though they
might delay long enough to force me to sign for
a ransom which would have no effect in saving:
me. I lost all care whether Ja3'cox hit me, or
whether I was spared for a more horrible
death by the gang. At last I was face to face
with the inevitable.
I was trudging on mechanically^ my eyes bent
on the ground, Jaycox close behind swearing
and shooting at me, when snddenlv a shot ransr
out from behind us both. I turned and saw
Jaycox tumble from the saddle. Running to
where he lay I bent over him, and knew at
once that I looked into the face of a dying
man. He gave me one malignant look, a shiv-
er passed over him, and his eyes were set in
I looked up, and saw Helen standing in the
road a short distance back with a carbine in
her hands. There was something in the ex-
pression of her face, holding as she did the
weapon, a light smoke curling from its muzzle,
that brought vividly before me my enemy with
his smoking pistol on the night of the massacre.
A signal shot came from around the trees so
near that we knew the rest of the band would
soon be upon us. Quick as thought I sprang
into the saddle left vacant by Jaycox, and
spurred towards Helen, she darting into the
wood, I following, and, after i^enetrating far
enough, both hiding behind a rock covered
A horseman came dashing down the road,
pulled up beside Jaycox's body, looked around
188 SWEET REVENGE
anxiously as though fearing an ambush, then
hurried back wlience he carae.
With one impulse Helen and I sprang into
each other's arras. Oh, tlie rapture of that
embrace ! I essayed to speak to her, to utter
even a word, an exclamation expressive of
what I felt. I could only draw her cheek
down against mine and mutely hold it there.
Then I showered kisses on her lips, her cheeks,
her forehead, her eyes. For the moment I
forgot all but the reverence, the gratitude,
the burning passion, tliat thrilled me — a pas-
sion such as comes but once, if ever, in a life-
Suddenly there came to Helen a remem-
brance of our danger.
" Mount ! quick ! All depends on })utting
space between you and those who will kill you
the moment they get their hands on you
" And leave you ? ISTot I."
" Oh, my God ! are you going to act that
way again ?"
" You have killed Jaj'cox and released mo a
second time. Do you suppose they will over-
look that V'
She became frantic at my opposition.
" You fool ! you ingrate ! to throw away
your life when I have twice saved it."
" We will go together. Here, put your foot
in my hand. Once in the saddle you can ride
away, while I can go as fast on foot as j^ou."
" Hark !"
There were sounds of horses' hoofs com-
ing leisurely from the south, and in another
moment a mounted man in Confederate uni-
form emerged from behind the trees, loitering
along, the picture of indolence.
"Look!" said Helen, her eyes fixed eagerly
on the advancing figure. " It's — "
"Captain Beaumont, as I live!"
.Never for a moment doubting that he was
followed by his troopers, and infinitely pre-
ferrino^ to fall into his hands rather than into
the guerrillas', 1 hailed him. He reined in,
stared at us, recognized us, and, after sitting
for a moment in mute astonishment, rode tow-
" What in the name of — "
" Your men — where are they ?" gasped
" I have no men, I sent them back yester-
day. We have hunted you fo' — "
" Tiien dismount, captain," I said-, " and be
190 SWEET REVENGE
quick. There are guerrillas up there. They
may murder you as well as us."
" My dear man," he said, dismounting lei-
surely, " yo' are always in a hurry. By-the-bye,
where is tha^fascinating little creature — "
" Oh, captain," cried Helen, "a life — both
our lives are at stake !"
"What can I do fo' yo'?" asked the captain,
at last impressed with our excited appearance.
By this time the guerrillas had come up to
Jaycox's body, and stood alternately looking
at it and casting glances into the wood on
either side of the road. They raised him, felt
of his heart, knew that he was dead, and
" It's Jaycox," I whispered to the captain.
" He kidnapped me to - day a second time.
This brave girl followed and shot him. In a
few minutes they will scour the wood. We
have but one horse. It will never carry us
both swiftly enough for escape."
" I relinquish my horse with pleasure, of
co'se. May I assist — "
Helen's foot was in my hand and she in the
saddle before he could finish ; then I sprang
upon the other horse.
" Would you oblige me,'' the captain called
after us, as we hurried away, " b}^ informing
me where I can find that httle beauty — "
"Over there — in a pocket between knolls
— half a mile — • tell them we'll join them
I can see him now, with his hand on his
heart, bowing profoundly, and, notwithstand-
ing a shudder at remembering the danger we
were in, cannot repress a smile at the comical
situation of this man who a few days before
had ordered me out to be shot, then had of-
fered to lend me money, and now, giving me
his horse to save my life, was about to start
off hunting for Jaqueline in the Cumberland
Helen and I, riding side by side, dashed
through brush, between trees, over rocks, run-
nels, rotting trunks of trees, our only thought
to put space between us and our enemies. She
was riding on a man's saddle, sidewise, lucki-
ly supported b}^ a high pommel and holster,
keeping her balance as if bred to the " ring."
I reached out m}^ hand ; she gave me hers
to press, and a lover's look, intensified by our
danger, shot between us. It was only for an
instant, for so rough was the ground, so nu-
merous the obstructions, that we were oblit!:ed
193 SWEET REVENGE
to keep oar eyes constantly fixed ahead. There
had been exciting moments since my first ab-
duction, but nothing like the wild exhilaration
that thrilled me now. I forgot tlie barrier
that was still between us, thinking only that
if this one ride were successful years of hap-
piness might be in store for us.
"Wondering if we were followed, I drew rein
and listened. We could distinctly hear the
brush breaking in our rear. Again we pushed
It occurred to me that we were <]:oinf]: direct-
ly from our camp, and that the greater chance
for safety, both immediate and ultimate, would
be in hiding, with a view to inducing the
guerrillas to pass us, thus affording an oppor-
tunity to return and join forces with our
friends. Approaching a clump of wood skirted
by open ground, a plan flashed through my
brain to utilize both in order to elude our pur-
" Your bonnet!" I cried to Helen.
She tossed it to me.
" Now ride straight for that thicket."
Spurring my horse to the utmost, I made a
circuit, dropping the bonnet, and, a trifle far-
ther on, my hat. He.len entered the wood,
and I, wheeling, dashed in on the farther side
and rejoined her. Jerking off my coat, I
wrapped it about my horse's ears and eyes to
prevent his neighing to those approaching,
and Helen, divining my intention, did the
same to her own mount with her jacket. Then
we stood waiting, not a sound escaping from
either us or our horses, even their panting
deadened b}'^ the covering. It was either life
or death, with the chances in favor of death,
We stood, hand in hand, looking straight into
each other's eyes. In that moment of supreme
suspense it was as if but one being waited for
An exclamation : they have seen the bon-
net ! A shout : they have come upon the hat !
They clatter on. Wait. A man in the rear is
coming. He too passes, his horse's hoof-beats
dying in the distance.
Leaving the thicket, we made straight for
the camp, and in a few minutes dashed in u^Jon
Captain Beaumont had arrived but a few
minutes before us, and when we appeared was
attempting to reassure Jack, who had com-
pletel}'^ collapsed at finding that both Helen
and I had disappeared. He went to Helen
and politely offered to assist her to alight.
" We must move out of this at once," I said.
" All depends upon our getting down the
mountain and into some town, where these
villains will not dare follow iis. All stay here
■while I reconnoitre."
I had not dismounted, and spurred my horse
a few hundred yards westward, where I paused
on the verge of the plateau. The sun Avas
rising at my back, and was pouring a flood of
light on the lowlands a thousand feet below,
1 swept my eye over the rolling fields and
woodland dotted with towns, villages, ham-
lets, and many a fair plantation with its manor-
house surrounded by the huts of the field-
BUCK S INDISCRETION 195
hands. Far in the distance was a snakelike
line in the road, moving forward, it seemed, as
a reptile crawls — the cavalry that we had so
nearly caught the day before, now on their
way back to join the main force. I longed for
a speaking-trumpet sonorous enough to reach
them, but there was no hope for us now in
them, and I brushed away disappointment and
made a survey of the ground directly before
me. Nothing but steep incline, so thickly
wooded that the character of the ground was
completely hidden. On either hand Avas a
mountain spur, between Avhich ran a creek. I
hesitated between taking one of these spurs
and following the bed of the creek. On the
spurs we might be seen ; by the creek we would
be concealed under the trees. I decided in
favor of the latter. Eeturning to camp I in-
formed the party of my decision.
"Will you join us, Captain Beaumont?"!
" I've been hunting fo' yo' all fo' days," re-
plied the captain, looking at Jack. " Now I've
found yo' I'm not likely to part with yo'l
Together we can whip the guerrillas."
" Not a dozen of them. Besides, we've had
enough of that."
196 SWEET REVENGE
" What are you going to do with the horses ?"
" Mount the ladies," suggested the captain.
"Thank yo','' observed Jack, "I don't care
to ride on a horse with his nose pointing to
China and his tail at the stars."
" No one could ride a horse over such a
route," said I. " I'll take care of the stock."
I tethered them in the little poclcet we were
leaving, knowing that they were less likely to
betray our whereabouts to our enemies there
than if I turned them loose.
" They'll starve," Jack remonstrated.
"I can't help it."
"They shall not!"
"Come, we have no time to lose."
But Jack set about collecting Avhat little
grass was to be had and piling it before them.
The captain, seeing her determination, was
soon on his knees gathering grass and throw-
ing it in her apron,
" I hope the delay will not cost us our lives,"
I grumbled. " Now, Ginger, I Avant you to go
off to the right just as far as you can, and still
keep me in sight. Buck, you go to the left and
do the same, but keep close, for it won't do for
us to call to each other."
buck's indiscretion 197
" Jack can make all sorts o' noises— cats, 'n'
owls, 'n' birds — so yo' can't tell 'em," Buck vol-
" Good ! "We may have occasion to use her.
You girls keep behind about the same distance
as oar flankers. When we get to the creek
Ginger is to work down it on the right bank,
Buck on the left, while I keep as near the
creek as possible. Captain Beaumont, will you
act as rear-guard ?"
" With pleasure, sir."
'* He'll go to sleep," remarked Jack, " and
be left behind."
"Not with you in front," said the captain,
looking at her reproachfully.
I gave the order to move. Making as little
noise as possible, keeping each other in sight,
except occasionally when the trees and under-
brush were too thick, we proceeded to the
brow of the plateau. Descending, we soon
struck the creek, and under cover of the trees
proceeded downward in open order, walking
rapidly, keeping a sharp lookout ahead and on
the flanks. "We had not gone far before an
owl hooted behind me, and so natural was the
cry that, had I not been expecting it, I should
never have suspected it to have come from the
198 SWEET REVENGE
throat of Jaqueline. Turning, I saw both girls
pointing upward. On the very edge of the
declivity, and not far from w^hei-e Ave had be-
gun our descent, a man was looking down
from the plateau. We were so protected that
he could not see us, for, besides being among
the trees, we were in comparative shadow,
while the man above stood out boldly in the
light. He did not look like a guerrilla, but we
Discovering a great advantage in Jack's
signals, I called in the flankers and the rear-
guard, and arranged with them that Jack was
to travel with me as trumpeter. The hoot of
an owl would mean "hide"; a woodpecker's
rapping, "rally on the centre"; the notes of a
thrush, " take a back track "; a hen's cackling,
" push forward in haste." These signals be-
ing perfectly understood, we opened again, and
advanced like a central sun and satellites.
We had made the principal part of the de-
scent, when, coming to a convenient spot, I
ordered a halt for rest, feeling a confidence
that I had not felt since my abduction — a con-
fidence I should not have yielded to, for we
were yet far from safety. The place of our
halt was a delightful angle in the stream Ave
BUCK S INDISCKETION 199
Avere following. Jack strolled away in search
of wild flowers, and was soon joined by Cap-
tain Beaumont, whose infatuation prevented
him from thinkin"' of auo;ht else, even our
common danger. Buck stretched himself un-
der a short mountain oak, clasped his hands
under his head, threw one leg over the bent
knee of the other, and looked straight up into
the branches. Helen and I were thus left
alone. We sat down on the bank of the creek
in view of the bubbling stream. Takino; a
slender stick in her hand, Helen began to
thrash the Avater. I saw that she was trou-
bled, and I knew the cause. The barrier be-
tween us, which in a moment of intense excite-
ment had faded out of sight, now loomed up
again as ominously as ever. "We sat without
speaking. Jack and the captain were chatting
briskly, every now and again speaking loud
enough for us to hear some word that told of
the captain's enthralment. The silence be-
tween Helen and myself grew painful ; I could
say nothing to break the spell. I could but
mutely express what I felt. Beaching out, I
took her hand and drew her to me.
A shot !
Looking upward to the plateau, I saw a
300 SWEET EEVENOE
horseman (lashing off to the spur north of us,
whose ridge led to the level ground we were
approaching. It was plain that we had been
discovered, that the shot was a signal, and the
horseman was going to head us off.
The trouble had all come from Buck. I
have no doubt we should have given the guer-
rillas the slip had it not been for his folly.
There are certain idiosyncrasies in boys that
are as natural to them as for a duck to swim
or a robin to ^y. Unfortunately, at a critical
moment, Buck encountered an incident that
called out one of these idiosyncrasies. Gazing
into the branches of the tree under which he
lay, he espied a bird's-nest. Unluckily he no-
ticed that a rock which admitted of a gradual
ascent stood directly under the tree. Climb-
ing the rock, he made his way among the
branches, and, leaning far out where the briglit
sun could sliine directly on him, grasped for
the treasure. Our enemy, who was at the
time watching from the plateau, discovered
Calling the party together, I gave the order
to push forward ; not that there seemed to be
any object in doing so, for we must expect to
meet our pursuers ; but. we could not go back,
BUCK S INDISCRETION 201
and could not stay where we were. Besides,
motion would tend to pull together the facul-
ties of the party, every one of whom was ap-
palled at this relapse into the frightful dan-
gers they had so long endured ; though Captain
Beaumont showed only irritation at having his
tete-a-tete with Jack interrupted.
We had not gone far before we struck a path
running parallel with the creek, Avhich led us
to a hamlet on a road leading north and
south. There were but half a dozen houses
in the place, including a small country store
and a blacksmith-shop. Before entering the
town we consulted as to w^hat w^e should
" Get horses," I proposed, " if there is time."
" Or a horse and wagon," said Helen.
" I reckon we better hide," was Buck's prop-
"• Let's get clothes," suggested Jack, " and
dress up like village people."
I looked at Helen. Jack's proposition ap-
peared to strike her with the same force it
struck me. Of all things the guerrillas would
expect us to do, disguising ourselves and going
about the town as if we belonged there would
be the last.
202 SWEET REVENGE
" Done !'' I said, as we entered the place.
" Scatter. Tell the people the guerrillas are
after us, and they'll help us. We'll have from
ten to fifteen minutes to prepare."
What became of the others I did not at-
tempt to discover. I made straight for the
blacksmith-shop and found a smith at his
" My good man," I said, *' I'm followed by
guerrillas. They'll be in the town in a few
minutes. Can't you give me your clothes and
let me take your place at the forge ?"
He stood, with his hand on the handle of
the bellows looking at me, while what I said
was slowly making its way through his skull.
" Weel noo," he said, at last.
" Scotch— I knew it. I'll be taken before I
can make him understand." Then to him :
"Do you want to save me from death by
" Certain, mon."
" Then take off that apron and give it to me
at once. Xot a moment to lose."
204 SWEET REVENGE
At this juncture the desperate position I
was in entered his brain, and he worked quick-
ly enough once he reahzed what was wanted. I
saw a woollen shirt, well begrimed, hanging on
a nail, and, seizing it, put it on. Then I took
the smith's apron, rolled up my sleeves, smeared
my arms with cinders, and looked into a bit
of broken mirror resting against the wooden
wall to observe the effect. I was disappointed
to see that my face belied my calling.
" Your razor !" I exclaimed to the black-
He went through a door leading from the
shop to his dwelling and returned with a ra-
zor, soap, and hot water. In five minutes I
had shorn my beard, leaving a dark stubble,
then, seizing a handful of coke, rubbed out
every refined lineament. Taking another look
at myself I was pleased to see that my own
mother would not know me. Seizing the
handle of the bellows, I began to blow vigor-
'" Weel, weel," laughed the blacksmith, "ye
mak' a better-lo'ken smith than geentlemon."
" Play your own part well," I replied, "and
I have something nice for you at the end of
A MASQUERADE 205
It was fully fifteen minutes after we reached
the hamlet before there were any signs of the
guerrillas, and then three or four rode into
the town and asked for our party. Had they
seen us ? "Which way had we gone ? and other
questions, which the few people they met re-
sponded to with a grunt or a shake of the
head. I put ray head out to see, and. recog-
nizing one of them, drew back and began to
blow my bellows as if my life depended on it.
And it did. Presently one of the outlaws rode
up to the shop.
"Hello, thar!" he shouted.
" "Wall," I replied, still blowing and keeping
my face turned from him.
"Seen a man, two women, a bo}^, 'n' a nig-
ger go through the town ?"
" Hain't seen no one."
" Sho' V
" Sho' nuff."
He rode off, but I knew the storm had not
yet blown over. I went on working the bel-
lows, and it was well I did so, for presently
more of tlie band rode into town, and one of
the horses having lost a shoe, its rider dis-
mounted in front of the shop and told me to
put it on.
206 SWEET KEVENGE
This was something I had not counted on.
I knew no more about horseshoeing than
about knitting, but I put a bold face on the
matter and went to work.
" What the you doen' ?" yelled the man.
" Air y' goen"' ter put that shoe on with nary
"Don't y' s'pose I know my business?" I
cried, bristling. " I was only fitten' it."
With that I seized a knife and began to cut.
But I was too excited to pare the hoof even if
I had been an expert, and in another moment
the man yelled again, " Ef yo' cut that critter's
hoof off I'll brain yo\"
" Here, Sand}^" I cried to the blacksmith
within, "come shoe this man's critter; he
thinks he knows more 'n I do about shoe'n'."
The blacksmith finished the job while I, pre-
tending to be greatly irritated, was glad to
escape into his dwelling-house. Going to a
front window and dropping a curtain so that
I could look into the road without being seen,
I took a view of the situation. The guerrillas
were scattered about the town, some riding
around the houses hunting for us, others sit-
ting on their horses, questioning the inhabi-
tants as to our whereabouts. Captain Ringold
A MASQUERADE 207
was in command. A negro boy was playing
"hop-scotch" on the sidewalk. The captain
called to him :
" Yo' boy thar! Didn't yo' see anybod}^ go
this way a while ago ?"
" Two women 'n' a boy 'bout 's big 's me ?"
" 'N' a white man 'n' a colored man ?"
" Yes ; which way did they go ?"
"Dey's gwine right 'long dar;" and he
pointed to a path leading across the road
" Here, you," cried the captain to two men
who were watering their horses at a wooden
trough in front of the shop, " strike out on
The men darted away, leaving the captain
alone in the road. A little old woman came
out of a house opposite and began to guy him
in a cracked voice, poking fun at him for not
being able to catch a party of women. She
talked so familiarly with him that I besfan to
suspect she knew him. I trembled for fear
she would betray us.
" You uns ain't wo'th a persimmon," she
said ; " with them critters' legs under yer, y'
orter ketch wimmen folks easy."
208 SWEET REVENGE
"We'll catch 'em easy enough; they've
gone along thar," pointing to the path his
men were just dashing into.
" Th' didn't go that a-way."
" They didn't ? Which way did they go ?"
" D' y' s'pose I give fac's fo' nothen' ?"
A cold chill ran down my back ; she was
going to tell for pay.
" What do yo' want ?"
" Gimme 'nuff fo' a caliker dress 'n* I'll put
yer on th' right track."
" Sho' ?"
"This '11 git it as easy." He drew a re-
volver and put it to her face. She drew back.
But this man, who was above his calling, never
could persist in ill-treating a woman, and, low-
ering his weapon, he put his hand in his pocket
and pulled out a bill.
" That's the stuff ter git fac's with," said the
woman. " Now you uns git right 'long thar,"
and she pointed up the road northward.
" That won't do,'' said the captain ; " we just
came from up thar."
There was a pause, at the end of which I
heard the woman sav, in a low tone :
A MASQUERADE 209
The voice was familiar. I saw the man
start, then exclaim, " Great God !"
The old woman Avent over to him, and, tak-
ing hold of his bridle-rein, began to whisper to
him earnestly. Presently I heard the captain
" I can't do it."
There was more whispering, and b}^ the wom-
an's attitude I knew she was pleading. Was
she pleading for us? If so, who could this
good friend be to take so much interest in us ?
" I'd do 't fo' yo' and yo' friend, but not the
She fumbled with the rein, she stroked his
horse's neck, she laid her hand on his, all the
while talking earnestly and looking up into his
eyes, I fancied beseechingly, though I could
not see her face, for her back was towards
me, while the man's head was drooping lower
and lower. Her bonnet fell back on her neck,
and I knew the old woman was Jaqueline.
"Can yo' refuse when / ask it?" she said,
loud enough for me to hear.
The man was silent. The struggle within
him was plain in every line of his face. At
last he said :
" Fo' yo' sake, little one, I'll do it."
210 SWEET REVENGE
She took his rough brown hand in her little
white one and bent her head down upon it ;
then looking up through tears : " I can give
yo' only a trifle in reward, captain dear ; kiss
Bending from his saddle, he reverently
touched his lips to her forehead.
Lost in wonder at the strange sight, I was
nevertheless congratulating myself that she
had secured the man's promise to draw off liis
force, when the whole advantage was spoiled
through the insane jealousy of Captain Beau-
mont. It seems that the captain had dis-
dained to hide Avith the rest ; indeed, he had
no occasion to hide. The guerrillas did not
know that he was with our party, and he was
in no more danger from them than any other
man would be. He had, however, yielded to
Jack's persuasion to go into a house and keep
out of sight. When the guerrillas rode into
town he was sitting by a window sipping a
glass of Tennessee whiskey, and at the moment
Ringold imprinted the kiss on Jack's forehead,
as ill-luck would have it, he happened to look
out of the window. In another moment he was
in the road, discharging his revolver at the guer-
rilla, who, drawing his own weapon, returned
A MASQUERADE 311
the fire. A fusillade followed, Ringold re-
ceiving a wound that put him hors de combat.
Swaying in his saddle, he fell fainting to the
Jaqueline turned upon Beaumont like a fury.
I have seen little Jaclv in many a towering
passion, but never anything like this. Her
face was livid, her eyes flaming. She tried to
speak, but her ire choked her. At last, one
word expressive of her pent-up feelings came
out like a pistol-shot :
Having thus relieved herself to Captain
Beaumont, she turned to the prostrate Rin-
gold, knelt beside him, crooning over him as
if he had been dearer to her than all the world
At this moment a guerrilhi, who had doubt-
less been attracted by the firing, dashed down
the road. Beaumont caught sight of him just
as Jack had hurled her opprobrious epithet.
With an expression indicating that he would
prefer death to another such word from the girl
v.dio had enthralled him, he started to meet tlie
invader. Shots were exchanged, and the guer-
rilla fell from the saddle. He was followed
by another who shared the same fate, while a
212 SWEET KEVENGE
third, perhaps fancying that he had struck a
troop of Confederate soldiers, turned and fled.
All this happened so quickly that no one but
Beaumont and tiie three bandits had an op-
portunity to take a hand in the fight. When
there were no more guerrillas for the captain
to kill, he went shyly back to Jack, Avho had wit-
nessed his feat, looking like a school-boy who
had done penance for a fault and wanted for-
giveness. But Jack turned her back on him.
When the firing began, with one bound, dis-
guised and begrimed as I was, I cleared my
window. When Ringold fell I was joined by
the other members of our ])arty from the
houses. Buck had blackened himself for a
negro, and it was he who had answered Bin-
gold's questions. Helen and Ginger had hid-
den without disguise. The peo])le of the town,
one man and eight women, besides children,
rushed into the road. I knew well that the
absence of the guerrillas Avas but temporar}^ —
that they would soon come down on us in a
"We have no time to lose," I cried. "We
must get aw^ay at once."
A MASQUERADE 213
Turning to the townspeople, I asked if they
could furnish a conveyance.
"I've a horse and wagon in ray shed," said
" Out with it, quick !"
Every one of us took a hand in harnessing
the team, and in three minutes, by the clock,
we had finished. Then we all tumbled in ex-
cept Jack, who declared she would never leave
her friend Captain Ringold. There was no
time to bandy words, so I took her up and
tossed her into the wagon, where she fell in
a heap. Rising on her knees, she shook her
clinched fist at me, and cried to the wounded
guerrilla that she would come back to him as
soon as she could get away. Meanwhile the
blacksmith was driving us down the road, be-
laboring his horse with the stump of an old
A STERN -CHASE
A STRAIGHT road lay before us to Decherd, a
few miles distant. The place was of too great
importance for the guerrillas to dare enter,
and if we could reach it before they could
catch us we should be safe.
" How much is 3'our horse worth ?" I asked
" A matter o' saxt}'^ dullars."
" If you kill him b}^ hard driving I'll give
you a hundred, and if you get us to Decherd
before the outlaws can catch us I'll make it a
"Weel, noo, I don't want to be hard on a
mon flyen for his life, and wimmen folk, too ;
I'll do the best I can, and ask no money."
With that he belabored the poor horse's
flanks with the stump of his whip, and sent
him galloping onward. There were no springs
to the wagon, but we valued our lives too well
A STERN-CHASE 215
to draw rein at rut or stone. At one part of
the road I feared that if we did not check our
pace we would break a wheel, and be left with
no means to get on, save our legs. I cautioned
the driver to slacken his pace, but hearing, or
fancying he heard, the clattering of horses'
hoofs behind, without a word from me he ap-
plied the lash. Now we bounded into the air,
and now we were tossed together like dice in
" Git 'oop, ye critter !" cried the blacksmith,
mingling Scotch and Tennessee. "Don't ye
know ye're draggen' bonny leddies fly en' for
their lives?" and down came the butt of the
whip. It was harrowing to see a horse forced
to o^ive his life to save ours : but our situation
was too critical to warrant any slackening of
speed. Jack, who of all our force was usually
most frightened at danger ahead, and would
fight it most vigorously when face to face
with it, for once acted in reverse at seeing the
poor brute making leaps that were killing him.
" Stop beating that horse, you brute," she
cried, " or I'll beat you," and she sprang for-
ward to seize the whip. I caught her in my
arms. She looked up into my face, and burst
into tears. Whether it was wholly sympathy
216 SWEET REVENGE
or overstrained nerves I did not know — proba-
bly both. At any rate, I protected her from
the jolting by keeping her in my arms, wliile
she hid her face so that she could not see the
" Jack," said Buck, " you're nothing but a
" Shut up, yo' little nigger !" she cried.
I could not repress a smile at the retort, see-
ing which. Jack realized the absurdity of it
all, and broke into a laugh, while the tears con-
tinued to run down her cheeks,
" AYon't yo' let me support yo' against the
jolting?" asked Captain Beaumont, ruefully.
" Yo' ? Do yo' suppose I'd let you touch me?
Yo' shot my best friend."
''Do yo' dislike me fo' shooting — a robber?"
asked her admirer, sadly.
Beaumont settled down in a corner of the
wagon in despondency. After a while Jaclc
slid down beside him, Avhereupon he suddenly
lighted up and took as much interest in our
flight as any one of the party.
We were a wild-looking load to the few peo-
ple who passed us, "Whenever we saw a farm-
wagon coming or going we would shout to its
A STEKN-CHASE 217
driver to get out of the way. They must have
supposed our horse to be a runaway, for every
one quickly turned aside. There are pictures
of that ride which I can see to-day, so vividly
were they stamped on my memory. An old
man with his hands on the handle of his plough
gaped through iron-rimmed spectacles ; a wom-
an in a check gown and sunbonnet stopped trim-
ming plants in her garden, and stood, with the
shears in her hand, to gape at us, as if Ave Avere
a party of witches who had lit on the earth
from the moon, and were making ready to
take to the sky again. Negroes, children,
country lads faced the road as Ave passed, and
stood Avonder-stricken till we were out of sioht.
Coming to a rise in the ground where Ave
could look to our rear for perhaps a mile, we
were terror-stricken to see a man shoot around
a bend in the road at a gallop. In a moment
another followed. We could not see if there
Avere any more, for we passed oA^er the summit.
Not far beloAv a mile-stone told us that it Avas
one mile to Decherd.
" One mile to their two. Can Ave not do it,
driver r' I asked, quickly.
The only answer Avas another " Git oop,"
and renewed hammering on the horse's rump.
218 SWEET KEVENGE
The eyes of all were strained to the rear,
watching to see just Avhat chance there was,
from time to time, between life and death,
while I examined the carbines, which we had
taken care to bring with us, to discov^er if they
were in good condition. At every rise we
could see either one or more men coming like
the wind. They had evidently caught sight of
us, and were straining every nerve to catch us
before we reached Decherd. I told the black-
smith to lay it on hard, well know^ing that be-
tween us and our pursuers was only the life of
his horse. He was raising his whip when the
horse stumbled and fell, pitching most of us
out of the wagon, fortunately on soft ground.
Getting up and running to the prostrate ani-
mal I found him stone-dead.
We were still a quarter of a mile from the
town, and the guerrillas would be on us in a
jiffy. Calling to the others to help, I turned
the wagon across the road and directed all to
take position behind it. Distributing the guns,
we waited the coming of the advance of our
enemies. Three men, pretty near together,
catching sight of us, drew rein and waited for
their comrades. Others soon came up, and I
counted seven men preparing to charge us. I
A STERN-CHASE 219
was about to give an order as to the firing
when I heard an exclamation from Ginger:
Turning, I saw a troop of cavalry carrying
the Stars and Stripes riding leisurely from the
town. I fired a shot to attract their attention.
Suddenly they seemed to take in the situation;
I heard the sharp word of command, and saw
them coming at a gallop. Glancing at the
guerrillas, I saw them vanishing in the dis-
" Saved !" I cried.
" De bressed Lawd be t'anked !" shouted
"Gol darn it," said Buck, "ef I'd 'a' had a
shot I'd 'a' plunked one of "em."
" By Jove," remarked Beaumont, staring at
the approaching troopers, " I'm a prisoner !"
There was a puff of smoke among the re-
treating guerrillas, the crack of a carbine, and
Jack fell into Helen's arms.
Never was the pleasure of hard-earned suc-
cess more cruelly dashed at the moment of
triumph. We had fought these fiends off for
days ; we had escaped from them to a covet-
ed protection, and now, at the last moment,
they had struck us severely. Jaqueline lay on
220 SWEET REVENGE
the grass, her head and shoulders resting on
Helen's arm, who stanched the blood which
flowed from a wound in her side. I bent over
her with a groan. Captain Beaumont for a
moment seemed fired to chase the man who
had shot her, then joined those about the
wounded girl, muttering imprecations on the
guerrillas, and incoherently begging us to save
his little Jaqueline.
" A surgeon !" I cried to the troopers, who
were sitting on their horses looking on.
"Some one go for a surgeon."
"Ride quick!'' said the captain in command,
turning to the man nearest him, "and bring
a doctor and a conveyance from the town.
Then to an officer : " Lieutenant, follow those
men, and don't come back till you have capt-
ured every one of them. Take twent}'' men
with the best horses. With fresh mounts you
can run them all down."
A man dashed off towards the town and
twenty more after the retreating guerrillas.
Jack lay with her head on Helen's shoulder,
her eyes closed, her face white as a cloth, we
all about her, dreading every moment that the
life-blood would run out. Presently she opened
her e^'es, looked about her, then fainted away.
A STEEN-CHASE 221
" Oh, ray God !" cried Beaumont, " she's
" Keep off," cried Helen, " and give her air."
" Jack," cried Buck, terrified at her ghastly
appearance, " wake up !"
I, with a soldier's knowledge of the thirst of
a wounded person, dashed away in a hunt for
water. I found a well in a yard on the out-
skirts of the town, and drawing the staple to
the chain that held a tin cup, brought a plenti-
ful supply. Helen was still supporting her
cousin. Buck w^as striding about nervously,
■with his hands thrust down into his pockets,
while Captain Beaumont was kneeling, his eyes
peering into Jack's as though by his gaze he
would hold the life that he dreaded was ebb-
ing away. I sprinkled water in her face, and
she opened her eyes, looking about her as if
unable to understand her surroundino^s.
"What's the matter?"
Curiousl}'" enough, the words were the same
as those I had first heard her utter when,
wounded, I reclined on a sofa at her home.
" You're hurt. Jack," said Helen.
"Am I going to die V
" Oh no, dear, I hope not."
" Don't die," said Beaumont, in a broken
222 SWEET KEVENGE
voice. "Don't leave me; I couldn't bear
She looked up into his face sadly. " I have
been a bad girl to you, captain. Forgive me."
"Forgive you? I love even your harsh
" Oh, Helen," she said, " I hope I Avon't
" You won't, surely, Jack."
" Because if I do, I can't dance any mo' fo'
the colored people. Who'll look out fo' 'em,
Helen? Papa's away, and no one else cares
fo' 'em as he and I do."
" They'll have you with them for many a
An open wagon appeared in the road and
drove up beside us. A doctor with a satch-
el in his hand got down and approaclied
Jaqueline. Making a hasty examination of
the wound, he bandaged it, then told us to lift
her into the vehicle. The seats, except the
front one, had been removed, and their cush-
ions placed on the bottom. Some of the
cavalrymen tossed in their blankets, and I
smoothed them over the cushions, making a
comparatively comfortable bed. We placed
little Jack upon it; Helen got in with her, and
A STERN-CHASE 223
the rest of us walking beside, the cavalry act-
ing: as escort, we bore her to the town and
lodged her in a room in the main hotel of the
We found the town agog with news of the
first day's battle at Pittsburg Landing, and
I knew that my general would hold himself
ready to co-operate. I determined to join my
command at once. Having been assured that
Jack's wound would not prove fatal, I ar-
ranged for the transportation of the party as
soon as she could be moved, then gathered my
little force in her room and announced my
"^ I must now bid farewell," I said, " to my
little armv, every one of whom has become
dearer to me than life."
"Like General George Washington," said
Buck, "sayin' farewell to his ossifers. There
is a picture of it in my American school his-
" Good-bye, Buck ; remember to get a book
and pencil and break yourself of the habit of
saying bad words."
" I will, by thunder !"
" Good-bye, little girl," I said to Jack, bend-
ing down and kissing her on the forehead.
234 SWEET REVENGE
" Where 3^0' going ?"
" I ? Oh, Tm going away."
Helen's eves were gleaming. " Where are
you going ?" she asked, repeating Jack's ques-
tion, though in a different tone.
I had managed to keep my connection with
the Union Army thus far a secret. Now I
knew there was no need to keep it longer.
" To the Federal Army, where I belong."
The mute agony on Helen's face told what
my disclosure had cost her. Extending my
arms, I cried one word : " Sweetheart !"
"Renegade!" she hissed.
" Helen — dear lov^e — hear me."
She turned her back upon me and swept
out of the roora^
" / like yo', ef 3^0' are a Yankee," Jack
cried after me.
I left the hotel, my brain in a tumult.
Coming up the road was a little knot of
troopers surrounding the guerrillas whom
they had run down and captured. A few
hours ago I would have cried out with de-
light. Now they were no more to me than if
I saw them in a dream.
HUNTING BIG GAME
It was the morning of the 11th of April,
1862. I was nearing the spot I occupied at
the opening of my story, where the bush-
whacker had sought to kill me ; though then
I was alone, while now I was with an ad-
vancing army. Five hundred cavalry, a di-
vision of infantr}', and several batteries of
artillerv were hurrying down the road tow-
ards the beautiful city of Huntsville, hnng,
tranquil and unsuspecting, a few miles below.
The upper edge of the sun was peering above
the horizon, gilding the crest of the foot-hills
of the plateau on tiie east, the tree-tops, and
the roofs of the neighboring houses. The
flowers, which a fortnight before were open-
ing, were now in full bloom. They looked
innocently from the gardens beside the road ;
they leaned lovingly against the pillars of the
verandas ; from vines trailing over casements
226 SWEET KEVENGE
they smiled at the rising sun; while the
breath of morning was laden with their per-
It was the general's purpose to surprise the
cit}^, capture the railroad machine-shops and
the rolling-stock concentrated there, then make
up trains laden with troops, seize a hundred
miles of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad
on either hand, thus opening communication
with the army at Pittsburg Landing on the
west, and paving the w^ay for future operations
in East Tennessee on the east. The enemy
must not be given time to move troops to pro-
tect the city, for even should we defeat them,
they would destroy the shops, and run off the
rolling-stock. All depended on celerity and
The evening before we had bivouacked ten
miles north of the city. Our scouts permitted
no one to go south of us, enfolding all they
met, in order that no news of our approach
could reach the place we hoped to surprise.
Two hours before dawn the command was
aroused — not by the life or the bugle, but
by whispering officers — and the march was
resumed with no sound save the tread of
men and horses and the rumble of artillery.
HUNTING BIG GAME 327
Within a fe^Y miles of the city detachments
of mounted men, armed with telegraph -cut-
ting and track-tearing implements, dashed to
the left and to the right, to prevent the enemy
from sending for troops or running off the
rolling-stock. To another detachment which
rode among the advance columns was assigned
the duty of seizing the telegraph-office.
Hark! a gun! It comes from the eastward,
not half a mile distant, where the railroad runs
parallel with the pike. Artillery is driving
back a locomotive. The iron monster shrieks
like some wild beast that has met its death-
More whistles all along the track, far down
to the south, varying in distinctness from a
near, loud cry to a distant, faint moan. This is
fine hunting — stalking locomotives with can-
non. Did any South African sportsman ever
strike such game, or hunt with such guns ?
Boom ! boom ! boom ! Far and near the
shotted guns speak — far and near the metal
monsters cry out in terror.
All are bagged, except one more daring than
238 SWEET REVENGE
the rest, which runs the gantlet of artillery,
and with a round shot flying through its cab
speeds out of range.
Meanwhile sashes in the houses along the
road are being raised, shutters flung open, and
heads put out to learn the cause of the com-
motion. As guns boom, whistles shriek, and
cavalry clatter along the road, followed by
men rapidly marching and artillery horses
briskly dragging the guns, many a citizen, Avho
the night before had gone to sleep not dream-
ing of a foe, looks upon the passing armed
throng, listens to the sound of the cannon
and the shrieks of the engines, and wonders if
pandemonium has come.
I am drawing near the Stanforths'. There
is the house, with its broad verandas and its
peak roof. A knot of people are at the front
gate, but I am yet too far to see who they
are. Now I can distinguish the turbaned Lib.
There is a boy perched on one of the gate-
posts. It is Buck. That girl, tall and slender,
is surely Helen. As I draw nearer I can see
Gino^er, his broad mouth stretched in a crin of
pleasure at sight of Yankee troops. A figure is
sitting in a wicker chair on the veranda — dark
eyes flashing in a pale face. It is Jaqueline.
HUNTING BIG GAME 229
Riding np to the gate, I am out of my sad-
dle almost before my horse has stopped. Buck
gives a cry, and jumps into my arms. Ginger
grasps m}'' hand.
"By jingo! Mr. Brandystone," cried Buck,
" I'm mighty glad to see you. Since I got
back after fightin' g'rillas like — ■"
"Mars', 't's good fo' de e^^es t' see yo\" in-
terrupted Ginger, enthusiastically.
"After fio-btin' (j'rillas like a man — "
" What ! Mr. Branderstane, and in the uni-
form of a Federal officer !"
It was Mr. Stanforth. He looked at me
surprised — tlien put out his hand. But I al-
ways suspected the old man to be at heart a
Buck kept on. " After fightin' g'rillas like
a man, I come back^"
" Upon my word !''
Another of the family was expressing sur-
prise to see a former guest with the Union
troops. Mrs. Stanforth looked pained, but she
had nursed me when I was suffering, and her
motherly feelings got the better of her preju-
dices. I took her hand, and she did not with-
" I say, Mr. Brandystone," Buck now fairly
330 SWEET REVENGE
shouted, " after fightin' g'rillas like a man, I
come back liyar to be follered roun' by that
dogTOne old Lib !"
It was out at last, and the boy looked re-
lieved. I broke away, and, advancing towards
Helen, put out my hand.
She turned away from me with contempt.
Fortunately at that moment I espied little
Ethel looking at me wistfully, and, taking
her up, hid my face and my anguish in her
tresses. Then looking up I saw that Jack was
waiting for me, and, going upon the veranda, I
took both her hands in mine.
" Yo're the only Yankee in the world I want
to see," she said, enthusiasticall3^
" Golly !" cried Buck behind me. Turning,
I saw what had surprised him — the guerrillas
riding by as prisoners. They had been con-
ducted to Shelby ville by the company of cav-
alry which had captured them, and were now
a part of the procession of men and horses
hurrying by. Captain Ilingold looked up at
us with a melancholy stare. He cauo-]it sio-lit
of Jack, and T shall remember to ni}^ dying
day the sad look in his eyes as they rested for
a moment upon hers.
The advancing army moved rapidly on, and
HUNTING BIG GAME 231
was soon a mingled mass of guns and horses
in the distance. The sun - touched bayonets
and flags flashed for an instant, then were lost
in a turn in the road. The region which had
so suddenly been enlivened relapsed into the
quiet of the country.
Jaqueline begged me to go into the house.
I declined. Mr. Stanforth added his invita-
" Thank you, Mr. Stanforth, but I must re-
join my regiment at once. This is no time for
me to be absent."
" You shall come in long enough to drink
one glass of wine to show that you are our
friend." I saw that he would be not only
hurt, but, Avith his strong Southern impulse,
angered if I refused, and I reluctantly con-
sented to spare a few minutes to pledge my
I entered the house supporting Jack, and was
turning into the librar}", where I had passed
my time while wounded, when Jack guided
me into the parlor opposite. Helen left us
and went into the library. Lib came in bear-
ing a decanter and glasses. I drank to the
host and the assembled company, promising
that during the occupation by the Union forces
233 SWEET REVENGE
I would use m}^ influence to gain tliem every
favor and protection. I had drained my glass
and, setting it down, was about to go out to
mount my horse when Helen came out of the
library and crossed the hall, hand in hand
with an officer in Confederate uniform. His
forehead was bound with a handkerchief, he
walked with difficulty, and I judged had been
severely wounded. Jack sprang forward and
seized the other hand.
" Major Branderstane," said Helen, " my
Great God I Before me stood — m}'^ enemy!
As at night by a flash of lightning one may
see for an instant a landscape distinct in all
its details, so I saw again the events of the
night of the massacre. There were the flash-
ing shot-guns, the soldiers coming down the
hill, a fio-ure with garments streamino' in the
wind running to me for protection. And now
before me stood the man with the smoking
pistol. Involuntarily I put my hand to my re-
" I am your prisoner, sir," he said, quickly ;
" you do not need your weapon."
Helen's eyes flashed. " Would 3'ou shpot an
unarmed man f '
HUNTING BIG GAME 233
Jack, mute with terror, staggered to the
gray clad figure and clung to it, her expres-
sive eyes bent on me, a mingled flame of re-
proach and wrath.
M}^ hand rested on ray holster. I moved
not — spoke not — but stood staring at the group
that stared at me. This man, whom I had
been hunting to kill, whom Helen had stimu-
lated me to pursue, against whom she had
even voluntarily pledged herself to aid me in
my revenge, had now suddeidy appeared as her
" I was wounded," said the officer, " at Fort
Donaldson, and was brought here to my fa-
ther's house. I am unable to endure the fa-
tigue of flight, therefore I am compelled to
"Captain Stanforth, I have been hunting
for you for months."
" Me ?"
" What for ?"
A hush came over all as if about to listen to
a sentence of death.
" To kill you."
There was a brief murmur among those
looking on, then they stood breathless, wait-
234 SWEET liEVENGE
ing for the next scene in what promised to be
a tragedy. Only Helen knew what my words
meant. I saw a spasmodic quiver pass over
her as I had seen death touch a comrade who
had been shot in battle. Then, gathering her
forces, she stood still, her face denoting the
smothered fires of a volcano.
" May I ask, sir," said the officer, pale but
calm, " why you desire m}^ death ?"
" The wrong, the brutal wrong you did."
I know not wh}^ some demon of barbarism
should have come to me at this critical moment
when, of all others, I should have shown o-en-
tleness and mngnanimit3\ Here was an op])or-
tunity to make a graceful acknowledgment of
Helen Stanforth's service and sacrifice, per-
haps to heal the breach between us. I threw
it away. My abandoned purpose was rekin-
dled : I was crazed by Helen's treatment. I
drew my revolver and brought it to bear on
my unarmed enemy.
"Coward!" cried Helen.
I turned to her scornfully. " Who bade me
pursue this man to the bitter end V
U T •>■>
" AVho promised to aid me V
U T 55
HUNTING BIG GAME 235
" Who now begs for her brother's life at the
hands of a Southern renegade?'^
" I ? Never." She sprang l)etween me and
her brother — " Fire !"
She stood glaring at me, beautiful in her
uncompromising fury. I Avas bewildered, en-
tangled in the meshes of her beauty, her re-
lentless will power. Then suddenly a cold
chill swept over me, as a blighting frost across
a land hot Avith the rays of a tropical sun. I
stood aghast at what I had done. I had re-
turned her inestimable service by a miserable
attempt to force her to beg for her brother's
life. I had lost what hope I had cherished of
a reconciliation — of winning her. I threw m}^
weapon into a corner and was striding from
the room, when Captain Stanforth, freeing
himself from Jack, cried :
"In the name of God, what does all this
" It means. Captain Stanforth," I said, turn-
ing, "that on a certain night in East Tennes-
see a party of Unionists on their way north
were ambushed by citizens with shot-guns. A
body of Confederate cavalry came down to
their assistance. You, Captain — "
"It is false. I led my company to the
236 SWEET REVENGE
scene you mention — not to attack, but to pro-
It was now ni}^ turn to stand stupefied.
Had I been all these months following an
" I came on the ground," Captain Stan-
forth continued, "just in time to witness the
most diabolical sight I ever saw in the South.
One incident of that terrible night I shall al-
ways remember — a murder that I punished with
my own hand. I saw a woman fl3'ing for protec-
tion to a man who stood near her. A cowardly
cur beside me fired, and she fell through her
protectors arms. I drew my revolver and
shot the murderer dead."
" You shot the murderer ?"
I had no tongue for other words. This man,
dear to Helen, dear to Jack, dear to all this
household, was not only innocent of the crime
I had imputed to him, but was my avenger. I
took one step forward and seized his hand.
" Thank God !"
"You have been mistaken?"
" So far mistaken that had it not been for
these two women I would have shot you down
where you stand."
I strode to the door, rushed down the path
HUNTING BIG GAME 237
to the gate, mounted my horse, and, Avithout
once looking- back at the gaping crowd behind
me, galloped down the road after the advanc-
THE UNION SAVED
I CAUGHT the troops just as they were enter-
ing the city. All that we could have wished
for was accomplished. The whole territory-
was surprised and defenceless, and a hundred
miles of railroad fell into our hands. Machine-
shops, rolling- -stock in abundance, telegraph,
and all other paraphernalia for operating the
line were among the trophies, and on the morn-
ing after the capture the men who had been
employed under the direction of the Confeder-
ate government went to work for the United
And now followed a rest for three months,
a longer stay in one place than any I experi-
enced during the w^ar. It would have been the
most delightful had it not been for my es-
trano-ement from Helen Stanforth. Thoufjh
I was welcome at her father's house, though
the family apparently became attached to me,
THE UNION SAVED 239
thouoh Jack and Buck loved me as I loved
them, Helen remained obdurate. In vain I
sought to soften her by those attentions with
which men seek to entrap a woman's heart.
She would not even treat me with indifference.
I was to her a renegade to the South, an un-
I reported the case of Captain Stanforth to
the general, and secured from him a parole,
which enabled him to divide his time between
his father's house and the Rutland plantation
with his fiancee Jaqueline, who soon nursed
him back to health. Captain Beaumont was
brought to Huntsviile under guard, and I
interested myself in securing for him an early
exchange, which, after hearing of Jack's en-
gagement, he was extremely anxious to obtain.
He was passed through the lines to Chatta-
nooga, vowino^ that he would give his life to
the Confederacy if he could find a Yankee
bullet to assist him. He was too manly and
chivalrous to cast the slightest blame on Jack
for his disappointment.
One morning I took my friends from Mr.
Stanforth's — excepting Helen — into head-
quarters and introduced them to the general.
He was aware of our coming, and had directed
240 SWEET REVENGE
that the outlaws should be brought before him
at the same time.
" Are these the men ?" he asked.
" Yes, general," I replied.
To the officer of the guard, he said, " Take
them away. I clonH wish to see any more of
Jaqueline, who had heard these words once
before when the}'' were applied to me, and
consequently knew what they meant, turned
pale. She begged the general to spare them.
He shook his head.
" Impossible. They are the crowning bar-
barity of war."
" But, general, that one," pointing to Cap-
tain Ringold — "he helped us."
" Ah ! I had forgotten that." Then turn-
ing to Ringold :
" If set at liberty, how long will you require
to get out of my lines V
" I will go at once."
" Go ; and if you are seen about here after
'tattoo' this evening you will follow your
The reprieved man sprang towards Jaque-
line, seized her hand, and kissed it. " From
this moment I am a changed man," he said to
THE UNION SAVED 241
her, "and your bright eyes and kind heart
have done it." In another moment he was
Captain Stanforth was soon exchanged, and
before leaving to join his regiment was united
to Jaqueline. The wedding took pkice at the
Rutland plantation. The groom did me the
honor to request me to act as his best man,
Jaqueline doubtless having influenced his
choice. I gladly accepted, lioping that, since
Helen Avas to serve as first bridesmaid, our
being thrown together might heal the breach
between us. Ten minutes before -the cere-
mony Jaqueline was strumming Ginger s ban-
jo, and ten minutes after she had become a
bride was standing on the rear gallery tossing
presents to a crowd of blaclc people below,
whose upturned faces indicated the adoration
in which they held their 3'oung mistress.
I was disappointed in my hope that the
festivities would thaw the obdurate heart of
the woman I loved. She remained cold, even
when her hand was laid on my arm before and
after the ceremony. Later, finding her apart
from the others, I approached her.
" Have you not one kind word for me ?" I
242 SWEET kp:venge
" Not one. I can respect a Northern sol-
dier, not a Southern man who wears the
" Be it as you wish."
Mounting my horse, I rode back to camp
with a heavy heart.
The advantages gained by our force at Shi-
loh, and our own bloodless conquest of North-
ern Alabama, were not vigorously followed up.
The enemy withdrew to Tupelo, Mississippi,
where he formed a new arm}^ which, early in
the fall, marched, under the Confederate gen-
eral Bragg, through Chattanooga into Ken-
One morning in September orders came
for us to break camp and march northward.
Bragg was advancing, marching on Cincinnati
or Louisville, thus compelling the abandonment
of the territory we had acquired in the spring,
and requiring us to hasten to the protection of
the threatened cities. After making my prep-
arations for the mov^e I left the command, in-
tending to join it on the march, and rode over
to the Stanforths' to take my leave. Jackson
announced me, and I sat down in the little
library I had occupied three months before,
while my wound was healing, to await the ap-
THE UNION SAVED 243
pearance of my friends. I was startled by the
voice of Buck coming from above :
"Lib, doggone 't, whar's my swearen' book?
I've lost that 'swearen' book' what Major
Brandystone tole me to git."
A few minutes later he came into the room.
As he caught sight of me his face became
radiant, and, jumping into my arms, he hugged
me like a young bear. Tlie others soon entered.
Mr. Stanforth, who by this time had openly
avowed his affection for the Union, parted from
me witli regret, not unmixed with apprehension
lest upon the return of the Confederates he
might suffer for his attentions to our troops.
Mrs. Stanforth bade me adieu with motherly
affection. Little Ethel put her arms about ray
neck and wondered. Buck, for the moment,
in his affection for me, forgot that he was a
Confederate sympathizer, and insisted on go-
ing with me. Helen stood aloof, and at the
last moment seemed more bitter than ever.
There was a flush upon her cheek and a bright
spark in her e3'es.
" Good-bye," I said, putting out my hand to
" Never to an enemy," she replied, turning
244 SWEET EEVENGE
There was a murmur of disa}3probation at
lier act, but I did not listen to it. Turning on
my heel, I left the room and the house, and in
another moment was galloping away.
My regiment was moving on a road leading
northward and to the east of the main pike,
so I was obliged to ride across country to re-
join. Large armies necessarily move slowly,
and although in this instance we had entered
upon forced marches I knew that I had plen-
ty of time. I was riding leisurely through a
lonely road when I heard the sound of horse's
hoofs behind me. I had become so used to be-
ing hunted by my old enemies that I instinc-
tively drew rein and my revolver at the same
time, and, facing about, awaited the coming of
friend or foe. My pursuer turned a bend in
the road but a short distance from me and
suddenly came in sight.
" Helen Stanforth ! What in the Avorld
brings you here ?"
She drew rein and sat with flushed cheeks,
her eyes looking anywhere except on me.
Tier horse was restive, the two making a pict-
ure by no means quiescent.
" I am not satisfied."
THE UNION SAVED 245
" The manner of your leaving the country."
"Do I take with me what does not belono-
to me ?"
" You are going with our enemies."
I was puzzled. She knew that I was a
Union officer, and that my duty lay with the
departing array. Besides, to remain in the
country after its reoccupation by Confeder-
ate troops would be as much as my life was
worth. I was more than puzzled, I was irri-
tated, smarting as I was under her recent
'• This is not what dissatisfies you," I said.
" I spent my time rescuing a renegade."
" I see no occasion for you to come after
me to hurl that taunt anew. "We parted half
an hour ago, I supposed never to meet again.
Now you must needs — "
"Were you not in the Yankee service our
parting need not be — "
She paused and bit her lip.
I had often noticed a great show of picket-
firing on the part of an enemy just before
abandoning his lines. Somehow the thought
gave me an inkling of what was passing in
Helen's mind. I rode up close beside her, and
laying my hand on her horse's neck stroked it
246 SWEET KEVENGE
for a moment till I had quieted him. Mean-
while my eyes were fixed on Helen's, that
were glancing about wildly, as if endeavoring
to find some means of retreat. Bending for-
ward, without a word, I put my arms about
her and drew her to me. Her head sank
slowly, at last resting on the embroidered
leaves that denoted my rank.
" Sweetheart, I love you, and I believe you
There was silence, save for the running
water of the creek and the chattering of the
birds in the trees beside the road. The touch-
ing of our lips, her heart beating against mine,
stray strands of her hair falling over my
wrist, the moisture in her eyes, bring a new
warmth to my heart even to-day. At last she
suddenly disengaged herself and, as though
ashamed of her snrrender, turned her horse to
move away. I caught her and held her long
enough for one more embrace, one long part-
ing kiss ; then I let her go. As she galloped
down the road I called after her :
"You forgive me for threatening your
brother — for trying to compel you to beg for
THE UNION SAVED 247
" I'll come when the Union is saved."
" When the Confederacy is acknowledged,"
and she shot around the bend out of sight.
"I believe," I mused, as I rode on, " there is
no inconsistency, no incongruity, that does not
enter into the composition of woman."
"We met again a 3'ear later, shortly before
the battle of Chickamauofa, and aofain when
Hood was marching against Thomas at Xash-
ville, but it was not till after the surrender at
Appomattox that she consented to a union that
was to be simultaneous with the reunion of
One important fact has always remained a
secret between me and my wife. 1 have never
ventured to confess to her that during the war
I performed one act of secret service. In over-
hauling my papers she one day came upon a
document gotten up in red and black ink in
the form common in the army.
" What's all this about T she asked. '' ' Gal-
lant and meritorious services in the capture of
Huntsville, Decatur, and Stephenson Junction.'
I thought that when the Yankees surprised
Huntsville you were at our house."
"That?" I said, taking the paper and pre-
248 SWEET REVENGE
tending to scrutinize it — "oh, that was for
capturing a rebel."
" What rebel ?"
I hesitated, then prevaricated. " Don't you
remember the scene in which your brother
bore an important part V
"Do you mean to call drawing your pistol
on an unarmed man a gallant and meritorious
"Oh, they complimented everybod\^ for ev-
erything during the war. But I deserved the
encomium, for I captured another rebel more
rebellious than your brother "
"Who was that?"
I put my arras about her and kissed her.
By captain CHAKLES KING.
CAMPAIGNING WITH CEOOK, AND STORIES OF
ARMY LIFE. Post 8vo, Clotb, $1 25.
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In all of Captain King's stories the author holds to lofty ideals
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A romance by Captain King is always a pleasure, because he
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. . . Captain King has few livals in his domain. — Epoch, N. Y.
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ring about them. — Fhiladelphia Item.
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An admirable book. Mrs. Custer was almost as good a
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Boots and Saddles ; or, Life in Dakota with General
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Cloth, Ornamental, $1 50.
A book of adventure is interesting reading, especially when
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— Evangelist, N. Y.
No better or more satisfactory life of General Custer could
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Br THOMAS HARDY
Hardy has an exquisite vein of humor. His style is so hicid
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The Well Beloved.
JuDE THE Obscure. Illus-
Under the Greenwood-
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By GEORGE DU MAURIER
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